Conflict is smouldering within the North Westside Fire Department.
Wayne Carson, who has been chief for 19 years, was suspended by the Regional District of Central Okanagan Tuesday.
“I have been told I’m not to go on regional district property for three days,” he said.
“As of Friday, I am chief of North Westside Fire Rescue. I have been told I am back then.”
Carson, who is a paid, full-time chief, would not provide details as to why he has been suspended.
“There’s really nothing I can say at this moment,” he said.
RDCO officials met with North Westside firefighters Tuesday to discuss the situation.
In support of Carson, deputy chief Bob Andrews and training officer Johane Andrews turned in their pagers and they will return to duties Friday.
“We trust him 100 per cent and for him not to be able to work shows something is wrong and we’re concerned about the community and the fire department,” said Johane Andrews.
There have been some concerns about decisions made at RDCO and implications for the fire service, so in May, the Andrews held a public open house.
“It appears that this (suspension) is somewhat a result of that,” said Johane Andrews.
Carson is urging the volunteer force to remain intact.
“The last thing any fire department can afford is members resigning. Recruitment and retention of members is important,” he said.
Carson says he continues to have confidence in the firefighting service although he is temporarily absent.
“They (crew) are responding to calls,” he said.
RDCO confirms Carson has been suspended and he will return to paid duties Friday at 9 a.m.
“It’s a personnel issue so we are keeping details in confidence,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer.
“The department is not losing its career chief. The regional district remains committed to that position.”
Smith also points out that all but two (the Andrews) of the 24 volunteer firefighters are prepared for emergencies.
“The regional district can assure residents that there is no impact on fire and first medical responder response to the community.”
Jim Edgson, North Westside electoral area director, says he has not been involved in Carson’s suspension.
“This is a management issue,” said Edgson.