NEWS

Volunteer firefighters in Chase, B.C. being bullied by mayor, says complaint

06/19/2015 07:13 EDT | Updated 06/19/2016 05:59 EDT
Volunteer firefighters in the village of Chase, B.C. say they are tired of getting flamed by their mayor, and officials have called in a mediator to help cool hot tempers.

CBC has obtained an official WorkSafeBC complaint about Chase Mayor Rick Berrigan, accusing him of bullying and harassment.

Dan Stevens, who has volunteered for the fire department in Chase since he was 17, is among those unhappy with the situation.

"We don't believe it's fair that we volunteer our time and do everything we are doing for the community just to be shot down and not supported by the guy that is running the community."

Stevens told CBC that the mayor "speaks down" to volunteers in an "aggressive" tone, and engages in personal attacks, "such as, 'You're not trained enough to do this.'"

​Berrigan responded to CBC calls with only, "I refuse to confirm or deny anything."

'We're volunteers doing the best we can'

CBC Kamloops learned that WorkSafeBC looked into the complaint and visited the village office after all 18 of the volunteer firefighters wrote to the council demanding an investigation by a third party into the mayor's conduct.

Berrigan is himself a past fire chief, and has a history of dissension with current Fire Chief, Brian Lauzon, according to some of the firefighters.

The complaint comes only months after an independent report highlighted a pressing need for more firefighters in the village.

Stevens agrees the volunteers do need more training.

"No, we're not trained enough to do this, but you don't have to rub it in our faces. We're volunteer(s)... doing the best job we can and when he's attacking us personally... it kills us."

The firefighters say they do not want much from the village, only an apology and to be treated with respect.

MORE:cbcNews