Safety issues cited for mass resignation of firefighters in Manitoba town
By The Canadian Press
ALTONA, Man. – Six members of the volunteer fire department in Altona, Man., have resigned in the last week, citing safety concerns they say are not being addressed.
The firefighters say in a statement sent to CTV News that their concerns have been repeatedly brought up, but no changes have been made.
They say raising safety issues has either resulted in disciplinary action or they’ve been completely avoided.
Greg Zimmerman, Altona’s fire chief, says the department is going in a different direction because it’s considering purchasing a ladder truck and undertaking new training.
Dan Gagne, the town’s chief administrative officer, says there are 19 firefighters left and officials will not be investigating the resignations.
He says they have a dedicated and well-qualified team of volunteers who are more determined to provide the same standard of service to the community.
“It was decided that we could no longer be part of an organization that is not willing to listen to concerns of the members,” said the statement from the six firefighters. “If these changes to the staffing of the fire department can bring strength by bringing issues to light, then we have achieved what we have set out to do.”
Curt Toews, a nearly 20-year member who was also a lieutenant with the Altona Fire Department, was one of the firefighters to step down.
“I truly believe that our leadership didn’t have our best interest and our safety in mind,” he said.
Zimmerman said it’s unfortunate the six do not want to go in the fire department’s direction.
“The department is alive and well. It’s business as usual.”
Gagne said he attended a meeting with the department Monday night and is confident the service is committed to serving the community.
“There’s been no new information that’s come to light,” he said. “So for us we’ve accepted the resignations and now the challenge is to re-bolster the numbers and address the concerns as they come up.” (CTV Winnipeg)