A consultant’s report on how to fix persistent bullying, harassment and the flouting of safety rules in Sackville Fire & Rescue will remain confidential, according to a statement posted today on the town’s website.
“The assessment provides a comprehensive review of the Fire Department’s operations,” it says.
“There are several areas that will require attention in order to address the 20 recommendations provided in the report. These actions will be implemented by the Chief Administrative Officer with the support of Council and will include dialogue and consultation with firefighters,” it adds.
The statement notes that both town council and members of the fire department have been briefed on the report.
“As to be expected, since the results and recommendations are human resources related, they will not be made public and will remain confidential,” it says.
In April, the town hired Montana Consulting of Moncton to review fire department operations after former and current volunteer firefighters accused town officials of ignoring their complaints about bullying, harassment, discrimination and favouritism in Sackville Fire & Rescue.
Those complaints became public after former firefighter Kevin Scott sent a copy of his resignation letter to Warktimes along with similar letters from several former colleagues who had given him permission to release them.
Scott says he counted 17 resignations over a period of four years with no response from the fire chief, two CAOs or members of town council.
Scott, along with about 30 current and former firefighters attended a two-and-a-half hour meeting Thursday evening during which the consultants asked that their recommendations not be made public.
During an interview today, Scott said he would respect that request.
However, he added that while many of the recommendations were positive, he was disappointed that no one would be held accountable for the way firefighters were treated.
“I really want accountability,” Scott says. “I mean on the fire grounds, everything is around accountability, everyone has to be accounted for, everyone has a job to do, so accountability is a huge thing on the fire grounds…and I think accountability should have been held here as well.”
Current firefighter Laura Thurston, who attended last night’s meeting, said in an e-mail she would also respect the request for confidentiality.
“I am pleased with the work Montana Consulting has done. They were certainly thorough and took our conversations seriously,” her e-mail says.
Thurston told Warktimes in April that female firefighters faced discrimination from certain members in the department.
“I will say, it’s unfortunate that speaking out publicly was the necessary step to have action taken but I am very glad I/we did,” her e-mail adds.
She writes that the consultants feel the town is committed to developing an action plan to implement their recommendations.
“Personally I would like to hear that commitment directly from the CAO and Chief which I am hopeful will come after council has had time to also digest the presentation,” she adds.
“I feel we as firefighters deserve to be part of the conversation as well. I understand there is a lot of work still to be done and it will not happen overnight.”
To read the town’s statement, click here.