Sundre fire department is ‘fully operational,’ rumours of lockout are ‘categorically false’: mayor

Sundre’s volunteer fire department is “fully operational” and ready to respond to emergencies in the southern Alberta community, despite rumours to the contrary that circulated on Monday evening.

Several community members sent emails to Global News on Monday, and posted on social media, saying the Town of Sundre had fired its fire chief and locked the remaining firefighters out of the fire station, leaving the town without any means of fire response.

According to Mayor Terry Leslie, those were “malicious rumours” which are “categorically false.”

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The fire department is going through a transition, Leslie explained, after the departure of Chief Marty Butts. Leslie wouldn’t speak to the circumstances around Butts’ departure, saying the town can’t comment on personnel matters.

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Speaking with Global News, the mayor explained that, as is the norm, when someone like a fire chief leaves a position, the code to the locks on the building was changed — but he said the department was never “locked out,” and that the deputy fire chief and any members who needed the code to the door had it.

“Town residents and businesses can rest assured that they will continue to be protected by dedicated men and women who faithfully serve our community,” Leslie said in a public statement posted on the town’s website Tuesday morning.

“Firefighters have been contacted and remain fully supported by the town and county councils. Mutual aid partners were contacted by the town yesterday and have confirmed that service to Sundre and district remains unchanged.”

Leslie also said he had not heard of any resignations of any firefighters.

Dozens of community members rallied outside Sundre town hall on Tuesday in support of the firefighters and former chief.

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The town will soon start recruiting for a new fire chief, Leslie said, and has brought in Behr Fire Services to help its firefighters through the transition.

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“Marty’s departure marks the end of an era for the fire service,” Leslie said in the statement.

“The town is grateful for the service Mr. Butts has provided the community and wishes him the best in his future endeavours.”

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Leslie said the town is seeking advice from its lawyer about what information it can release about Butts’ departure from the fire service.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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