Plympton-Wyoming residents concerned about state of fire department

Conner Weed and Kim Searson protest outside the town's municipal office. 14 February 2020. (BlackburnNews.com photo by Colin Gowdy)

A group concerned about the state of the Plympton-Wyoming fire department demonstrated outside the town’s municipal office Friday afternoon.

Organizer and former town firefighter Conner Weed said they’re still seeking answers from Fire Chief Steve Clemens and town CAO Carolyn Tripp.

“Initially three (firefighters) were let go without cause and there was, I think, four of them who were reprimanded, for bogus reasons too. It seems to be if you’re a firefighter that doesn’t agree with the chief in Plympton-Wyoming, you’re gone, he doesn’t like you, you need to be a yes-man,” said Weed. “We approached our council members, they said they can’t comment because a third party investigator came in, well that’s bogus too because they are elected officials and we need to get some answers, and we’re failing on that. It’s just a disgrace. I think our community members are asking ‘When is enough, enough? When do we start worrying about our community’s safety?'”

Weed was with the department for five years prior to Clemens taking over.

“Six months into his job here there was secret cameras hidden in the fire department. That is disgusting if you ask me. We’ve been losing guys left, right and centre,” said Weed. “We had a volunteer fire chief before and we’ve had no problems, we get this full-time fire chief that makes good money from Grand Bend, doesn’t even live in our municipality, and it’s just a disgrace to look at our firefighters. There was some slight math taken and it’s about 225 years of service that has left since he’s taken over.”

Fellow organizer Kim Searson said their concerns will not go unheard.

“None of us are going to stop and we will keep going, so whenever there is a council meeting, we’re all going to be there,” said Searson. “I’m not sure exactly what’s going on but when we’re losing hardworking, dedicated firefighters that have many years of service, there’s a problem.”

Blackburn News reached out to chief Clemens this week. He would not confirm that any firefighters had been dismissed.

“There’s been no public comment by the Town of Plympton-Wyoming,” said Clemens. “All that you have been given has been released by people that, I guess, have made their own conclusions, so all information currently given out is unofficial as there is no public statement given by the Town of Plympton-Wyoming or the Plympton-Wyoming Fire Department.”

Tripp also told Blackburn News the town did not issue any report on terminated firefighters.

“We were never asked to speak to that, all we were asked to speak to was two investigations that were undertaken in Wyoming Fire Department, and that review has been completed,” said Tripp. “On a separate issue, we did deal with some personnel issues as a result of a fire department review, and that’s really all I can comment.”

— With files from Josh Boyce.