Eight of Vernon’s auxiliary firefighters (a part of the Vernon Volunteer Firefighter Association), have recently simultaneously resigned.
According to a firefighter that wishes to remain anonymous, the resignations came after “months of neglect, failed mediation and all-around disrespect to the members of the VVFA.”
City of Vernon communications manager Christy Poirier confirmed that Vernon Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) received notice of eight members wishing to resign, however, she stated that “the resignation of the VVFA members is in no way responsible for the chief’s recommendation to Council.”
The request to council was based on the VFRS’ Eight Year Strategic Plan, which recognized pressures on the service from increased call volume and the effects of the opioid crisis.
Council approved the hiring of four new firefighters on March 27, mere hours after receiving news of the resignations.
The new firefighters will be funded from unspent operating dollars from June 2023 to May 2024, at a cost of up to $460,000.
In June of 2024, the positions will become funded by taxation, with an increase of about $240,000 in the 2024 budget and an additional $260,000 in the 2025 budget.
VFRS currently has 24 auxiliary firefighters, with six on active duty, 13 in training and five on temporary leave. The service aims to employ a force of approximately 30 auxiliary firefighters, however, that number can fluctuate.
Poirer also explained that there have been many changes to the fire service industry over the last few years and that “we recognize that the changing role of auxiliary firefighters has left some feeling that the program no longer aligns with their needs.”
“Vernon Fire Rescue Services recognizes and appreciates the long service of the members who have resigned from their roles as auxiliary firefighters and thanks them sincerely for their service to the department and the community,” Poirier said.
According to Poirier, the resignations do not impact the department’s ability to provide service.