Skip to content

COMMENTARY: One Regional Fire Chief doesn't guarantee savings

'Pelham Fire has the hard-earned capacity to address our own emergency issues'
Pelham's Fire Station 1.

Productivity is not a natural derivative of centralization. Those who favour One Chief fall back on a logic which says that the savings from centralization are predictable, substantial and concrete. It is more likely, on the other hand, that the results of One Chief will be more middle management assistants, more rigidity in decision making, and most regrettably, the monopolization of power in the hands of a distant bureaucracy with only small or imaginary improvements in costs.

Modern leadership is not about devising a vision for people on their behalf and then persuading them to be supportive and compliant. This old concept of centralized, hierarchical leadership is no longer appropriate. The Fire Chief’s leadership function is to empower, encourage and authorize others to exercise leadership. Our Pelham volunteers have embraced a leadership process that brings out the best in themselves and liberates this leader in everyone. It cannot be done at a distance or by remote control.

Pelham Fire has the hard-earned capacity to address our own emergency issues. This capacity is built upon the hours of training and the hours away from home, the caring and support of the fire families and the responsible and independent nature of the citizens of Pelham. We don’t need to look like any of our neighbours to make progress. One Fire Chief for Niagara would mean that Pelham will lose autonomy at a cost that will be far greater than any temporary savings.

Truthfully and practically, how often do you imagine the proposed Regional Fire Chief would visit our Pelham volunteers? Right now, our department sees our Chief just about every day! And that’s the way it should be.

Wayne Olson is a Pelham Town Councillor representing Ward 1.