Steve Clemens was hired to be the town’s first director of fire and emergency services and held the title of chief of both the Wyoming and Camlachie departments.
Plympton-Wyoming Chief Administrative Officer, Carolyn Tripp, confirms Clemens is on leave. She couldn’t say how long it would last and wouldn’t comment when asked if it would be a council decision for the chief to return.
Tripp also would not elaborate on why Clemens was placed on leave last week.
But sources tell The Independent the chief was allegedly eavesdropping on conversations of firefighters with electronic surveillance in the Wyoming fire hall.
When Clemens was hired in Dec. 2016, there was some controversy. Just after Clemens was hired, the Wyoming chief and deputy chief, Mike Vasey and Ron Vanderburght, stepped down from the leadership positions even though there would be station chief positions under the new management structure.
At the time, Vasey said he had applied for the new position but was not interviewed because he lacked one qualification. Vanderburght stepped down saying he didn’t want to take over the chief’s position when Vasey left.
The moves led to tension in the Wyoming hall for months. Then, this week, sources say the municipality sent information technology workers to the hall to look into the claim of surveillance after council members were notified of a concern by someone in a leadership position. He’d heard the concerns from “multiple firefighters.”
The municipality was expected to investigate the claims early this week after sending Clemens home. Sources say firefighters were told he would not be at the fire hall and was not to be contacted for fire related issues while he was on leave.
It’s believed members of the department could have heard as soon as June 21 (Wed.) whether Clemens would return to the job.
Clemens grew up in Lambton Shores and lives in Grand Bend. He came to Plympton-Wyoming with a wealth of experience including serving as the first fire chief of the amalgamated North Middlesex department and being the chief in Middlesex Centre which had five different stations.
At the time he was hired, Clemens was working as the executive director of Canadian Fire Alarm and had positions in managing fire safety and emergency management at both Western University and Fanshawe College.
Mayor Lonny Napper declined to comment on the issue referring questions to the CAO.
Camlachie Station Chief Scott Jordan has temporarily taken over Clemens duties.