Ross Snow (front right) is shown with other members of the Spaniard's Bay fire department.
Just hours after the Spaniard’s Bay mayor publicly apologized to the town’s only female firefighter for sexual harassment, a senior firefighter with the fire department called for Brenda Seymour to be temporarily placed on a leave of absence to clear the air.
The Conception Bay North town grapples with national attention for sexism in its fire service, after more than 20 firefighters resigned, protesting Seymour’s behaviour.
In a lengthy post on Facebook, Ross Snow identifies himself as firefighter in Spaniard’s Bay who has held positions including lieutenant, treasurer and first captain within the volunteer fire department. (Editor's note: Snow was one of the group who resigned Jan. 18)
Snow went into detail about the ongoing controversy involving Seymour and allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination as the department’s sole female firefighter.
Snow said he was the officer who was charged with investigating a crucial incident in which Seymour asked the fire chief for a new balaclava for her kit, and when she was given one, another firefighter said she might want to wash it because other firefighters had ejaculated on it.
“I myself looked into the allegation made by Brenda as of late about the conversation when she went to get a nomax hood there were five people present including Brenda when it happened (excluding myself) and there’s no proof as to the exact wording but there was a conversation some words were confirmed some words were left out so in my opinion it’s he said she said so everybody is open to their own opinion,” Snow wrote. “But knowing everybody involved I don’t think for one second was there harassment.”
Snow also said that in his view, Seymour was not bothered by another incident in which a pornographic video was played as part of a firefighter training session.
“Brenda and her husband were at the training session sat side by side,” he said. “Jokes and comments were made by ALL!! In no way was it directed to Brenda in any way.”
All of this came just a couple hours after the mayor of Spaniard’s Bay issued a news release formally apologizing to Seymour for how she was treated.
“On behalf of the Spaniard’s Bay Town Council, I apologize to Mrs. Brenda Symour for instances of sexual harassment which she has endured,” Mayor Tony Menchions said in a news release. “We do not condone, nor tolerate any such behaviour.”
Seymour said that she accepts the town’s apology.
“It exonerates me in the public eye to some extent,” Seymour told The Compass, the weekly newspaper in the area. “I’m quite pleased with it.”
Menchions said the town has adopted a zero-tolerance policy on harassment. His news release also said the town is accepting applications for new firefighters after the majority of the fire department resigned en masse, protesting Seymour’s actions.
Snow appears to be one of the firefighters who resigned, based on information he posted on Facebook.
Snow said he believes that all of the central players in the controversy need to take a step back, including Seymour and her husband.
“In my opinion I firmly believe that Ms Collins, Chief Hiscock, firefighter Vince Hiscock, firefighter Brenda Seymour and firefighter Martin Seymour be placed on temporary leave of absence from all positions until the allegations and legal proceedings end, upon completion of those matters then shall any or all persons be dealt with accordingly,” he wrote. “Allow the firefighters to assume their roles and provide much needed service and council to resume their roles and run our beautiful town accordingly.”
Among more than 40 replies to his post — mostly supporting Snow — one person wrote, “Well done Ross Snow sorry it had to come to this can the fire men who resined (sic) rejoin hope so ye was all good at your job and it would be a bad day for spaniards bay (sic) if ye cant.”
Snow replied, saying, “Yes we are all allowed to rejoin.”
With Files From The Compass
This is an updated version of the original article