Firefighter Controversy Ignites In Inwood

(BlackburnNews.com file photo)

The mayor of Brooke-Alvinston is assuring Inwood residents that there’ll be no gap in service following the mass resignation of the majority of the 20-member volunteer fire department.

The Inwood Firemen’s Association┬ásays on its Facebook page that after a long battle with council, the Clerk Administrator and Brooke Fire Rescue Chief Jeff McArthur, Station Chief Rob Howlett and 15 firefighters have tendered their resignations effective immediately.

Mayor Don McGugan says the problem centres on the speed at which volunteers are having to complete provincially-mandated training and certification.

“As of right now, automatic mutual aid is implemented,” says McGugan. “That means that surrounding municipalities will provide sufficient coverage. We have talked to the Fire Marshal’s Office and we do have enough equipment and everybody is protected. The mayors of the various municipalities have been contacted as well as the fire chiefs. We are safe.”

Mayor McGugan says at no time has council talked about closing the Inwood fire station.

Howlett says Chief McArthur doesn’t recognize that all the volunteers have full-time jobs and some farm as well.

“The training schedule is doubled from what we’ve done before,” says Howlett. “It’s difficult for guys to make that commitment and we’re not getting any respect or acknowledgement from the current chief and some members of council. We do recognize that we need the training and want to do it, it’s just the time frame that we can accomplish it in.”

Howlett says long-standing conflicts between firefighters and new Brooke chief McArthur have led to threats of termination.

Both Howlett and the mayor hope a solution can be worked out but as of now, no discussions are planned.