Fredericton — Last week the capital city’s fire department came under fire by languages commissioner Katherine D’Entremont for using their English Twitter more often then their French feed.
So this week, Fredericton fire chief Hogan Lanyard has extinguished that fire by hiring a French-speaking man from Edmundston, Jaques Touchie. The only problem with this hire is that Touchie has no firefighting credentials, and really no relevant skills to speak of that might help the local fire department in the least.
Chief Lanyard defended the hire to The Manatee. “Jacques is the man for the job, no doubt,” he asserted. “D’Entremont clearly pointed out what we need to make a priority: language. And, this guy has it all! You can’t find a much more French-sounding name than Jacques and we can barely understand the guy when he speaks English — he’s perfect. He smokes, he drinks wine, eats cheese and baguettes every day. I got the most French person I could; he fits all of the stereotypes.”
Our reporter was able to obtain a copy of Touchie’s application to the fire department, which was printed on loose-leaf and listed his skills as follows: “Pretty much everything (10+ years).”
The resumé went on to detail why Touchie thought that he would be the right fit for the department.
“I got real good chainsaw skills. Very good at working on cars, so if you need me to work on a car, or firetruck even, I’m your guy, and can fix pretty much anything. I can do it. Also, I speak French.”
Lanyard admitted that it was that last line on the application that really put Touchie above the other, seemingly more qualified candidates.
“We had dozens of viable candidates who have actually trained to be a firefighter,” he explained, “but they all spoke English, and as we know, just because you might be great at putting out fires, that doesn’t really qualify you to be a firefighter.”
Under the education piece of Touchie’s application he listed that he was “the greatest kid in school because I was behaving you know, I knew everything and never did anything wrong.”
Lanyard used that gem of a line to solidify his decision. “Right there, the kid said he was the greatest and he knew everything — that probably includes firefighting.”
Our reporter asked Touchie about his first week on the job.
“Well, it’s not be easy, you know. This fightingfire thing is really, really hard and dangerous,” he confessed. “I’ve tried everything I can think of to put the fire out and it doesn’t work. I tried using my chainsaw skills, I tried fixing it with a wrench, a tire rod, pretty well all of my car tools, I tried. And as much as I speak French to the fire, it still won’t go out.”
Kennedy Leese lost his home to a fire last week but says he appreciates the lengths the department went to to apologize for not being able to save his home or his belongings.
“To me, it looked like a pretty small kitchen fire and there was a firefighter here pretty quickly — I was confident that I wouldn’t lose anything,” he sadly remembered. “Shows what I know, though. This firefighter came in and didn’t have an extinguisher or hose, instead he was wielding a chainsaw.”
Leese went on to say that even though the firefighter had “well above average chainsaw skills” it didn’t help put out the fire.
“He tried everything with that chainsaw of his, I’d never seen someone so apt at using one,” he continued. “But, next thing you know, the chainsaw catches fire and kind of explodes because of the gas in it and the whole house went up in flames.”
Leese said his mind was put at ease, though, when he received an apology letter from the department. “It said they were sorry in both English and French, so that’s what’s really important here.”
Since Touchie has been hired, the city has seen an increase in fire damage by 2,000 percent, but the good news in all of this is that the department is now using their French and English Twitter feeds at the exact same ratio.