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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser North Farmers Market moves to online model for summer season amid COVID-19

Customers can order products online and pick up at Golden Meadows Honey Farm on Saturdays

In-class instruction for Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows schools to resume June 1

Classes will be part-time, remote/at-home learning to continue

Maple Ridge Climate Hub urges city council to take action

Many neighbouring cities have declared climate emergencies

LETTER: Fearful guard dog training will bring undue noise and fear to Pitt Meadows

As a neighbour to another local dog-training facility, this resident pleads with council to vote ‘no’

BC Ferries losing up to $1.5 million each day as pandemic tanks ridership

The company does not qualify for the wage subsidy

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Chilliwack school board censures trustee Barry Neufeld after controversial Facebook post

Board chair issues statement on censure but little else regarding Facebook post controversy

Twenty-nine of Canada’s 48 national parks to reopen to day-use visitors June 1

All national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas have been closed for weeks

JK Rowling publishes first chapters of new story online

Book will be a fairy tale for kids and benefit those particularly affected by the pandemic

BREAKING: Langley Gabby’s Country Cabaret announces ‘heartbreaking’ permanent closure

Owner Steve Gallagher ‘holds out hope’ of a new future for the 35-year-old nightlife hotspot

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Officials looking for answers after Abbotsford football star found dead in Sask. lake

Saskatchewan Health Authority looking into circumstances surrounding Samwel Uko’s hospital visit

Most Read