Most of Fort Resolution’s volunteer fire department resigned Sunday night due to a disagreement with the community’s SAO, says the former fire chief.
Arthur Sanderson was the first to resign after what he describes as an issue around the department’s phone alert system.
Deninu Kųę́ First Nation Chief Louis Balsillie, Sanderson’s brother and fire department sub chief, also resigned. He says the entire department followed suit, whereas Sanderson says there may be a few members of the 10-person brigade waiting to see what happens.
Both say they want landlines installed in all the members’ houses so they can all be alerted as soon as a call comes in. Sanderson says this is how the department was previously alerted.
However, they allege Fort Resolution’s SAO Todd Francis wants a single cellphone that would be one member’s responsibility each week. The firefighter who has the phone would be paid $100 for the weekly responsibility and would be in charge of dispatching the call to other members.
Sanderson argues this would be ineffective.
“People got lives, this is a volunteer thing,” he says. “What happens if that person forgets that phone one time?”
Francis wrote in an email that the hamlet and Municipal and Community Affairs worked with the fire department in 2019 for an assessment “from which there were a number of observations and recommendation[s] identified, for further discussion.”
He did not specify whether the phone system was one of the recommendations.
Fort Resolution Mayor Patrick Simon says he is waiting to get direction from his council before making a decision on the situation.
Sanderson has been on the brigade for over 40 years, serving as chief for the majority of that time.
“I’ve been the fire chief for darn near 30 years,” he says. “I just figure if I’m not going to get the proper help, I’m not just going to sit by and …. have the crew run like that because I think it’s really unsafe.”
“Pretty well all other members feel the same.”
Francis says the fire department assessment and proposed next steps will be discussed at a special council meeting on Monday evening.
Sanderson says he is waiting to see what happens before deciding what he will do next, but there is a possibility of him returning to the department.
More to come…