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Fire chief retires amid complaints of department wide harassment


LONDON, Ont. – A fire chief in southwestern Ontario has retired amid allegations that his department was plagued by a culture of harassment and retaliation.

The City of London says in a press release that Chief John Kobarda is retiring “effective immediately” after 27 years as a firefighter in the city, 14 of which he spent in the top job.

London Abused Women’s Centre executive director Megan Walker says she has received more than 30 complaints in less than a week from London firefighters alleging that they are shouted at or discriminated against by superiors, and punished for standing up for their colleagues.

Walker says the allegations do not name Kobarda specifically, but that he bears responsibility as the leader of the department.

She says Kobarda’s retirement is a step in the right direction but that full culture change will not happen until all officials who contributed to the alleged harassment are held accountable.

London Mayor Matt Brown declined to comment on the harassment allegations.

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