Outgoing Chief Murphy feels department is in good hands

Eganville – After 22 years in the fire service and the last eight years as fire chief in Bonnechere Valley, Dave Murphy is ready to retire and feels positive about leaving the department in good hands.

“The administration of the department will be done by someone who is here fulltime and that is good,” he said at his last day on the job last Tuesday.

Incoming Chief Darryl Wagner was already working for the municipality as the Chief Building Official (CBO) and will now assume the dual role. The outgoing chief noted there is a lot more involved in being a fire chief these days and a lot of paperwork, so having someone onsite is a real advantage. In his own case, he and his wife, BV Mayor Jennifer Murphy, own and operate Murphy’s Auto Service in Renfrew, and he was not able to be onsite in Eganville as often. As well, he has some other fun ideas on the hopper for his time which made this the right opportunity to step down.

“The garage is busy and our hobby farm is keeping me busy and I am eyeing culinary school,” he said. “I’m at a place in my life I want to try something new.”

The culinary school is online and has a good reputation, he said. For anyone who did not know the retiring fire chief was a gourmand, it shouldn’t really come as a big surprise, he joked.

“I like to cook and do a lot of cooking,” he said. “Don’t you remember all the chilli contests?”

In fact, Mr. Murphy was a champion at the chilli cook off contests several times which were held as a fundraiser for the Eganville Seniors Centre (Echo Centre).

As he glanced around the fire hall in Eganville, he said the department is in good hands and this gives him a good feeling as he steps back.

“Darryl and I grew up in the fire service together,” he said, noting Chief Wagner was his deputy chief at one point. “And I am here as long as he needs me.”

Mr. Murphy joined the fire service in 2001. He became chief in BV in 2015.

The job is a lot more involved than when he first became chief at Greater Madawaska and later BV, he added. There is a lot of paperwork, a lot of reporting and a lot of legislation to keep up with, he said.

“It is a tentacled monster, this job,” he said.

Certification Issues

In his last meeting with BV council, he said the issue of legacy certification is huge for fire departments, he said.

“The big thing is less than 10 percent of the fire departments have actually opted into the legacy(program),” he said. “So, they are a bit afraid of that. They don’t now what is going on.”

The biggest issue is fire departments are not going to jump into the legacy program because of the threatening tone of the evaluation, he said.

“They’re going to be auditing everybody, so it was kind of not rolled out very smoothly,” he said.

There had been a previous attempt by the Liberal government to bring in something similar a few years ago and he was involved in appealing this. Now the Conservatives are planning something similar..

“The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office has changed the goalpost which means we are not compliant right now and that’s what they keep doing,” he said. “They keep shuffling the goal post down the road and we have to keep changing strategy and it keeps costing us more and more money every time they do.”

The issue is the commitment level for firefighters. They sign up as volunteers with an understanding of how much time is involved in training, he explained.

“The retention of recruits is going to be a real challenge after the legislation comes into force in 2025,” he said.

Firefighters have full time jobs and even though there is a really good training program right now, he said. There is also a need to have been working people to the point where a proctor can come test them. There is a significant cost to this, he said.

“We want everybody to be safe but on the other hand, 95 per cent of the injuries in fire departments are in fulltime big city departments. That’s where the injuries are,” he said.

Another change he noted in his report to council is the investigative response from the Ontario Fire Marshall’s Office is now upped to $1 million in property value. “When I started with the fire service it used to be $250,000,” he said.

The financial loss is also $1 million, he said.

“Serious injury they won’t come for now,” he said.

It has to be a threat to life, he said.

“If someone gets burnt and they don’t feel they are going to die they won’t, so they have scaled back and are not responding to things as they responded before,” he told co

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader