Tilton resident Cory Mahaney is one of the firefighters who resigned during Tuesday's council meeting. A Level II firefighter, he has been a member of the Spaniard’s Bay department for just over year. Previously, Mahaney served with the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department.
During the meeting, Coun. Sheri Collins resigned from her position on council and as a result several firefighters left the department. Collins was also council's liaison with the department.
Tensions ran high when the resignations started and in the wake, the town saw at least 20 members of its 33 member department hand in their pagers. At the time, the Conception Bay North community was left scrambling for fire protection.
Since then, departments in Bay Roberts and Upper Island Cove have stepped up to cover off any calls.
Firefighter Brenda Seymour is at the heart of the controversy. In recent months, she’s levelied accusations of sexual harassment against certain members of the department, amid other complaints.
In a Facebook message sent to The Compass, Mahaney mentioned numerous instances where Seymour declined to perform a duty requested of her by the fire chief.
He also noted instances when firefighters were given the opportunity to voice any concerns or issues inside during the department, there was no mention of any from Seymour. However, Seymour did bring them up in council after the department had met.
“Mrs. Seymour never voiced her opinion at the fire hall,” wrote Mahaney. “While at the council meeting a few things ... which Mrs. Seymour brought up issues that was mentioned at the fire hall. She had no rights as a firefighter on Thursday nights to bring issues back to the council just because she was councillor when this was the reason Mrs. Sheri Collins attended — it was her job not Brenda’s.”
He believes the problems in the fire department can be traced back to June when Seymour was elected to council as the result of a byelection.
“It's seems to me she has a personal issue with Fire Chief Victor Hiscock and is using her Level 2 Training to her advantage in front of the council to make motions to remove Fire Chief Hiscock terminate his position,” he wrote. “There are lots of firefighters in the department that could be the next chief and not because of Level 2 training either.
“It’s because any firefighter knows same as I do that your fire chief is elected based on his performance, leadership, ... and his day-to-day experience. Which my proud Fire Chief Victor Hiscock has done in the past several years as chief and 17 years as firefighter.”
Mahaney noted that the fire chief gave all he could during his time with the department. He pledged to stand by his chief through this ordeal.
“(Victor Hiscock’s) ability and training should not be questioned,” he wrote. “ He had a big heart, firefighting in his blood and gave 110 per cent to the community, council and residents. So, there's a big role as in being Chief not just wearing a white helmet with chief on it.”
The council is scheduled to have a meeting with the Department of Municipal Affairs in the future. That follows meetings with the province’s fire commissioner’s office in previous weeks.
Elements of this article have been updated.