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

School buses for SD91 to start running from June 1

Parents urged to drop off and pick kids up whenever possible

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

New traffic lanes for Six Mile west of Burns Lake coming soon

Construction to begin on lane extension and traffic improvement

Coastal GasLink pipeline work ramps up

With spring thaw ending, workers start to arrive for summer season

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Most Read