A shakeup at the Port Hope Fire Department after town council asked its fire chief to step down . . . effective immediately.
But Port Hope mayor Bob Sanderson says it has nothing to do with Jim Wheeler’s performance.
‘His knowledge and involvement with fire fighting is parallel to none,” Sanderson says. “It’s not a performance issue.”
Rather, Sanderson says its a “normal planning process” and he is refuting reports that Jim Wheeler was “requested to retire.”
“If somebody chooses to retire it’s their decision. It’s not our decision to have somebody ‘retire’. It’s our decision not to have them be with the community or the municipality as an employee. That’s our decision.”
Wheeler began his career in fire services in the 70s. He became fire chief for the municipality last year, and was deputy chief prior to that.
Sanderson says council elected to move Wheeler into the position of chief last year in an employment agreement which went through to 2018.
“And within that contract there’s obviously the ability for us to invoke the interest of the municipality. Obviously it protects the employees as well,” Sanderson says.
Sanderson says when it comes to Wheeler’s dedication to the community, he has a legacy, recalling one of the stories Wheeler will be remembered for in Port Hope.
“First Nations had a pow wow, and technically they couldn’t have their traditional fire. And Jim found a way to make sure they could have it without a problem. So that kind of thing is extremely important.
Jim Wheeler was unavailable to comment.