Former Keremeos firefighter Doug MacLeod’s day in court was denied on May 30.
The Cawston man’s case against the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen for wrongful dismissal was rejected by the courts because the statute of limitations regarding his application for filing a notice of claim had run out.
MacLeod also lost out on his bid to have the case heard on the basis that the Keremeos fire department is an entity separate from the RDOS.
“The fire department, although it has its own bylaws, solely exists as a creation through the delegated authority of the RDOS. It is not a separate entity, an incorporated company, or other legal entity capable of being sued independently,” commented Judge M.E. Shaw in her final ruling.
MacLeod initiated his claim seven months after being fired from the Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department in August, 2011. MacLeod had originally been fired earlier in the year, in March, but that dismissal was deemed illegal.
Under the terms of the regional district, firefighters are deemed officers, and as such have the right to a hearing before the regional district board. The regional district subsequently corrected the procedure, and MacLeod was terminated without cause.
“While I respect the courts and Judge Shaw’s decision, I am very disappointed at not getting to argue my case,” MacLeod said in a press release last week. “I am also disappointed in the way the RDOS senior staff and board dealt with this situation.”
MacLeod believes that the regional district continues to ignore a number of issues at the expense of its volunteer firefighters.
“Being a member of the KVFD had become a second job for most fire fighters,” he concluded, “the main issues in the ongoing and escalating dispute with Chief Bosscha and the RDOS were a lack of leadership, inadequate training, low equipment budget, lack of standardization procedures, downloading of responsibilities onto volunteer members, confusing boundary issues and little or no recognition for the dedication and commitment of the firefighters.
The RDOS response was to terminate the messenger, not deal with the issues.”
Keremeos fire chief Jordy Bosscha had no comment to make regarding the court decision, deferring to Dale Kronebusch, Regional District Emergency Services Supervisor, who issued the following statement:
“Regional district staff takes very seriously the organization’s commitment to good government and transparency. That commitment involves fairness, frankness and fidelity to principled operation.
In the matter of former Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) Training Officer Doug MacLeod and his termination from that department, the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen believes it has acted appropriately and correctly.
RDOS staff first attempted to resolve issues existing between Mr. MacLeod and KVFD Chief Jordy Bosscha. When those efforts were unsuccessful and the KVFD terminated Mr. MacLeod, the RDOS reversed that decision and provided Mr. MacLeod with a hearing before the regional board.
After hearing from both parties, the regional board voted to end Mr. MacLeod’s relationship with the KVFD. Mr. Macleod was paid for training events and calls occurring during the period between his initial termination in March 2011 and his subsequent termination by the regional board the following August.
The regional district also followed proper court procedure in response to an action brought by Mr. Macleod. The Provincial Court of British Columbia has agreed with the regional district’s argument and rejected Mr. MacLeod’s claim.”