Grand Forks Fire and Rescue trucks. (Facebook photo)

Grand Forks fire department under investigation for alleged bullying and harassment

WorkSafeBC prevention officer conducts inspection after firefighter makes report

The Grand Forks fire department is at the centre of a WorkSafeBC investigation, after a firefighter claimed he was bullied for bringing forward a number of safety concerns.

The volunteer firefighter, who spoke to Black Press Media on the condition of anonymity, said in a phone interview Wednesday that his concerns included the department’s failure to conduct annual tests for hose equipment and fitness tests for crews. Both are recommended as national standards, as hose material can degrade as it ages and annual fitness tests ensure members equipment is up to standards, specifically their self containing breathing seal.

The firefighter said he brought the matter to Fire Chief Dale Heriot’s attention via email in March, and the city’s chief administrative officer in April. He said the city hired an HR consultant to speak with him and any other firefighters willing to express safety or other concerns.

As the HR investigation went on, he said, tensions began to rise. He said he was excluded from fire calls and no longer scheduled for shifts. That’s when he made a report with WorkSafeBC.

“I asked the questions and I clearly struck a nerve,” he said.

The city’s deputy corporate officer, Kevin McKinnon, who is also a fire captain, confirmed the city had hired an external HR consultant, but did not provide further details.

“The city’s main objective has been to follow the necessary steps in accordance with City policies and guided by the HR consultant in order to conduct a fair, respectful, and thorough process,” McKinnon said in an emailed statement. “This matter is still under investigation and it is the city’s policy to not discuss personnel matters publicly.”

According to the WorkSafeBC inspection report, a prevention officer attended the fire hall on April 18 to investigate alleged bullying and harassment. The officer did not observe any violations during the visit, and requested the HR consultant’s findings by April 29.

It is not clear if the city provided the report by that time. According to emails obtained by Black Press Media, the report is with the city’s legal team.

McKinnon said the consultant’s report is expected to be presented at an in-camera council meeting in the coming weeks.

McKinnon confirmed that while the prevention officer was on site, several safety issues were identified, including the concerns initially brought forward by the firefighter.

He said that pressure tests on the fire hoses as well as hearing tests for the crew are underway, and that WorkSafeBC also ordered further tests of the face seals on each firefighter’s self-contained breathing apparatus.

Heriot did not respond to several requests for comment.

Mayor Brian Taylor declined to comment and referred all requests back to McKinnon.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rossland tax break bylaw called unfair, council mulling changes

New businesses competing with existing ones can no longer apply for revitalization tax

Trail man arrested, drugs and cash seized

Crime Reduction Units from Trail and Castlegar executed a search warrant on Rossland Avenue

West Kootenay opinion sought on health care issues

Rural Evidence Review getting strong response to survey call-out

25 years of Nite Trek for West Kootenay Scouts, Guides

Annual adventure hike is hosted by the 107th Baden Powell Guild

West Kootenay RCMP charge man with impaired driving in school zone

Sgt. Chad Badry reports on impaired drivers and other high risk offences

Kelowna toddler suffers cracked skull after fall from balcony

Neighbour who found the two-year-old boy said he has a bump the size of a golf ball on his head

Support growing for orphaned Okanagan child after father dies in highway crash

Family thanks emergency crews for assistance in traumatic incident

RCMP probe if teen was intentionally hit with ski pole by mystery skier on B.C. mountain

The incident happened on March 20 on Grouse Mountain. Police are urging witnesses to come forward

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Baby boom seniors putting pressure on B.C. long-term care: report

B.C. leads Canada in growth of dementia, dependence on care

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Nevada court orders former Vancouver man to pay back $21.7M to investors

The commission says Michael Lathigee committed fraud over a decade ago

Roadside device to weed out THC can’t detect impairment, B.C. lawyer says

‘This fact alone is likely to have serious implications for Canadians’ Charter Rights,’ lawyer Sarah Leamon warns

Most Read