Clarence-Rockland Fire Chief Adds Casselman To His Charge

By Gabrielle Vinette
Clarence-Rockland Fire Chief Adds Casselman To His Charge
Fire Chief Mario Villeneuve is including the Casselman fire department to his resume, alongside the ones in Rockland and The Nation. He will begin his duty on May 1, 2024. (Photo : File photo)

Clarence-Rockland Fire Chief Mario Villeneuve will be taking over the Casselman Fire Department as part of a deal between the municipalities, putting the Chief in charge of three different municipalities simultaneously.  

The Fire Chief of the City of Clarence-Rockland will begin new his duties on May 1 to give Clarence-Rockland time to accept the agreement during a future council meeting. Casselman’s council have already accepted the agreement.  

“For me, it’s a return to my roots since I’m from Casselman,” said Villeneuve. “I feel very happy to go back and work for Casselman. I think it’s a positive agreement for both municipalities. And I’m very happy to be able to go in and bring that support and help to the residents of Casselman and their firefighters.” 

Villeneuve will not get a pay increase for this new position, but with a new title comes added responsibilities. With another fire department under his belt, Villeneuve will now look after budgets, council meetings, firefighter training, purchases and other administrative duties for three municipal fire departments in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, with The Nation already under his charge. The volunteers, equipment, infrastructure and financial decisions remain under the authority of Casselman’s Council. 

Splitting his time and attention across three municipalities has raised concerns about whether or not Vileneuve will be spread too thin. 

“I appreciate the concern,” he said. “We’re doing it because, in Clarence-Rockland, all of our firefighters are certified so I’m confident that I have the staff there and we’re in a position where I can leave that office for about 50 per cent of my time to take care of The Nation and Casselman. 

“Being from Casselman, I know the area, I know the people and I was a firefighter in Casselman 12 years ago,” he said. 

Casselman’s fire department only hosts one station of about 20 firefighters, and Villeneuve feels like it’s “not a big add”. 

Villeneuve will be accompanied by a full-time deputy fire chief and fire provincial officer who take care of The Nation and Casselman. 

Although he is not planning to bring any major changes to the fire department, for 2024, he plans to update operating guidelines and general orders within the Casselman fire department to ensure firefighters know what to do in certain situations. 

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. We want to do something. We bring a lot of knowledge and procedures that are already existing in Clarence-Rockland.” 

Clarence-Rockland will manage the fire chief’s budget, invoicing Casselman $10,841 monthly for the first year of service. The amount is expected to cover 15 per cent of Villeneuve’s time, 20 per cent of the Deputy Fire Chief’s time, 20 per cent of the Prevention Officer’s time, five per cent of a Training Officer’s time, and five per cent of an administrative assistant’s time. An additional 15 per cent is added to the total expenses to cover administrative costs such as human resources and payroll, among others. 

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