10/10/2013 01:39 EDT | Updated 12/10/2013 05:12 EST

Danielle Duperre Told Off By Saskatchewan Fire Chief In Heated Argument


MANOR, Sask. - Danielle Duperre called 911 last week when she thought the blaze from her neighbour's fire pit was getting out of control, but says she didn't expect to face a tirade about her "petty" French complaint as a result.

The Montreal native, who moved in 2011 to the tiny village of Manor in southern Saskatchewan, said Thursday that the volunteer fire chief showed up at her house demanding that she pay for making the emergency call because the fire wasn't posing a hazard.

She said his hand was balled up in a fist and his mouth was clenched tight. The 58-year-old said she became afraid and quickly grabbed her cellphone to record the man's ensuing two-minute rant.

"Go back to (expletive) Montreal where you belong!" he shouts on the recording. "You got me out of (expletive) bed for this whole (expletive)!"

He identifies himself as the fire chief but refuses to give his name. At one point, Duperre asks him to put his hands down and stop yelling.

"You cannot talk to me that way," she says.

The man yells another obscenity before the exchange ends.

Duperre said she was shaken and shed some tears after the confrontation. The next day, she dropped off a complaint and a copy of the recording at the local village office.

Administrator Lisa Ironside said the mayor and council issued Duperre an apology letter on behalf of the fire department earlier this week.

"Those comments were inappropriate and they should not have been made," Ironside said.

She identified the chief of the volunteer fire department as Troy Chapman and said he will be reprimanded, although she wasn't sure what the penalty would be. The council was to hold a special meeting on the matter Thursday night.

Chapman did not return a request for comment delivered through the village and on Facebook.

Doug Lapchuk, president of the Saskatchewan Volunteer Firefighter's Association, said he has spoken with Chapman and he and his crew are not talking publicly right now.

"There's something more to this and we've all been asked to reiterate, 'no particular comment at this moment.'"

He said people shouldn't rush to judge all volunteer firefighters "based on this one incident."

"Please remember these volunteers are the people who are out there at all hours, in all conditions, putting their life on the line to help fellow community members, often times for nothing more than the satisfaction of helping their fellow man."

The president of the Assemblee Communautaire Fransaskoise, a group representing Saskatchewan's francophone community, said Duperre deserves more than an apology.

Francoise Sigur-Cloutier said she was surprised by the anti-French comments.

"You don't talk like that, especially when you have a responsibility in the community and people trust you. You should be protecting people, not insulting them."

Duperre said she fell in love with Saskatchewan a few years ago when she started making trips to the province for construction jobs. She made friends and decided to move.

She settled on Manor, a community of 320 people, when she saw her dream house — a character home built in 1905. She has been busy renovating the building and also rents out two other properties she purchased in town.

It's tough breaking into a tight-knit community, she said, adding one resident once asked her why she didn't move to a nearby French town instead.

And although she has had some problems with village staff over delayed garbage collection, Duperre said she never called the fire department before last week.

She said she doesn't want to move, but doesn't know if she wants to stay either.

All she knows for sure is that she wants the fire chief gone from his job.

"If he cannot control himself, his emotions, how can he control a fire?"

— By Chris Purdy in Edmonton

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