Okanagan Landing firefighters ready to abandon duties

Volunteers upset with City of Vernon's refusal to renew a service contract

Okanagan Landing’s fire hall could become an empty place.

Twenty of 26 volunteer firefighters have indicated they will quit as of Jan. 31 if the City of Vernon does not agreed to renew a service contract with the Okanagan Landing Volunteer Firefighters Association.

“Should the association’s concerns be heard and a mutual agreeable contract be drawn up, many of the valuable volunteers that serve today will continue to serve for many years to come,” said Todd Montgomery, OKLVFA president.

The city decided earlier this year not to renew a contract with the association. Instead, Landing volunteers have been invited to join the Vernon Volunteer Firefighters Association and to become part of a single command model based out of the Vernon hall.

The association had requested to appear at city council’s Nov. 26 open meeting but it says Mayor Rob Sawatzky declined because of legal and labour matters.

“The mayor also declined a request from a member of the Landing community to present a petition with 1,670 signatures,” said Montgomery, adding that the petition called for the contract to be renewed.

The OKLVFA has now asked to meet with council at a closed-door meeting to discuss the issue and why many volunteers refuse to be part of the new command structure.

Look for more in Wednesday’s Morning Star.