The City of Didsbury, in southern Alberta, has released an initial investigation report and orders a safety audit following the sudden resignation of five firefighters.
The summary of the investigation report, conducted by Caliber Planning, highlights the fact that the fire chief often responds alone to emergency situations and that the service does not have official safety and operating protocols.
The City has asked Fire Chief Craig Martin to develop operating protocols, a code of conduct and job descriptions based on a “realistic but effective schedule”. His performance will also be evaluated for 12 months.
The municipal government is also planning to hire an independent consultant to conduct a fire safety audit and report back to the government in October.
White Pine Tribune spoke with several Didsbury firefighters, but they all refuse to talk about the situation publicly, for fear of being sanctioned or marginalized.
Last week, some of them went to testify before the city council in private meetings.
Mayor, Rhonda Hunter, is pleased that they have come to present their grievances and is pleased to have commissioned the investigation report. She hopes they feel their concerns have been taken into consideration.
The behavior of the fire chief questioned
The investigation report mentions the fire chief on several occasions, noting for example that his deputies “had lost confidence in him and seemed to be disrespecting his authority”.
It also states that “half of the firefighters expressed dissatisfaction with the chief,” and that “the leader lacks experience in human resource management and conflict resolution skills.”
The Fire Chief did not respond to interview requests from CBC at the time of publication.
Like all other Didsbury firefighters, their leader is also a volunteer. He works full time at the City of Calgary Fire Department, according to the Mayor and Chief Administrator of Didsbury.
Both support the leader, as well as his service, and repeat that the city is safe.
Councilman John Baswick says that not one of the firefighters he spoke to has questioned the chief’s firefighter skills.
“They see him as a very good fireman, very passionate. He’s a real fireman, “he says. “What I mean is that they salute his firefighting skills, but some may be questioning his skills in other areas. “
Megan Davies is a reporter for White Pine Tribune. After graduating from the University of Toronto, Megan got an internship at the CBC News and worked as a reporter and editor. Megan has also worked as a reporter for Global Toronto. Megan covers economy and community events for White Pine Tribune.