March 6, 2018. John Bradley, Dryden Firefighter, Speaks Out
I John Bradley was downstairs in the fire hall in a room deemed by the City of Dryden to be the Dryden Firefighters Association room. To have or to be able to talk about stuff we don’t want to burden our family’s with. So myself as well as three other firefighters were in our association room having a conversation when the Fire Chef, City CAO, accompanied by two Dryden police officers entered the room. They informed us that they were doing a inspection to see if we were in compliance with the City of Dryden’s Alcohol policy.
They ask if there was any alcohol in the building and we informed them that there was not. There are cabinets in the club room that have stuff in them for functions and such that are locked. They ask if we had access to them and informed them that there were limited people that have keys and they could get a hold of them and arrange a time to meet and go through the cabinets.
We also said that if they wish to get inside them without keys that they would have to repair any damage. I ask the Fire Chief about stuff that was done for the department and how he has told different people different stories to try to get clarification on things. The Fire Chief stood there and lied in front of the City CAO and two uniformed police officers. So my words got heated and I said “You are f#***** Lying” . Remember I am not a city employee in our club room. I was not representing the city in any way. There was not a call or practice. I was not getting paid at this time. I was in my safe space where I could express myself and it not go anywhere out of the room.
After our heated argument the CAO ask the Fire Chief to go upstairs to discuss there next steps of action. Ten Minutes or so passed and they returned and ask myself and two others for there pagers and said we are being fired for swearing in the presents of the Fire Chief and CAO and we were to leave city property immediately and not to come back on city property.
So I left and as I was leaving I noticed two more police officers standing at the back of the building. So that is for uniformed police being personal bodyguards for the Fire Chief and CAO. Not to mention that there was absolutely no reason for police to be there. As firefighters we work very closely with the police and we respect everyone of them. We are not the type to start any kind of trouble and took offence to the Fire Chief and CAO having them there.
On the Monday (February 12), myself and one of the other firefighters that was fired contacted the Human Resources at the city to file a wrongful dismissal. The Human Resources lady said we needed to write down what happened and sign it before she could do anything. So we did, handed it in in the afternoon that day.
On the Tuesday I email Cathy at HR to ask why I haven’t got anything in writing and what the process was and in I could go on city property like the pool and fitness center and our association room. She messaged me back saying I would get something in writing and that I had to refrain from going to fire hall 1 or 2. Which our association room is at hall one. You know the room they gave us to do what we wish with.
On February 26 I was emailed a letter from the CAO that stated that they would reinstate me if I signed this letter saying that this incident would go on my file as a written reprimand. I was away on vacation at this time and the association had a meeting with the council the next day and stated that it was wrong to do that and they should reinstate us without reprimand. Which they did.
The other problem that the firefighters have is the lack of confidence we have in our Chief. He has lied to the majority of the members time and time again and in front of the CAO.I presented to council 8 letters singed by members stating that he lied when I questioned him in front of the CAO. That is one of the reason the association has not gone back to work. They have ask for him to be removed from command on scenes and put into an administrative roll until we can find common ground to work under him and the city refuses to do so. That’s why we are not back to work.
I received an ultimatum tonight as did they rest of the firefighters saying we resume work by Friday or be terminated. I’m sorry but the city has been operating in bad faith the whole time and enough is enough. PLEASE feel free to share this and or Copy and paste is so everyone knows my side of the story.
March 7, 2018
On Thursday March 6 the city of Dryden informed all volunteer firefighters that unless they sign “intent to return to work” form by 12 noon on Friday March 9 2018 they will be terminated. This is a result of the Dryden Fire Fighters Association decision not to reinstate services after a lengthy meeting with city officials. In that meeting the DFFA brought forward the concern that Chief Ryan Murrell has created such a toxic work environment that it was unsafe for everyone to return under his command. The DFFA proposed that Murrell be placed on administrative leave and not attend fire calls or practice in order to ease tensions until the CAO Ernie Remillard could conduct his full investigation into Murrells misconduct of firing three members. These three members have subsequently and quietly been reinstated without reprimand. City councilors in attendance along with Remillard refused reiterating their full support of Murrell. Rather than admitting they made a mistake and disciplining one person they are willing to lose the entire department. Dryden City Council and its CAO have ceased all communication.
DFFA Negotiating Committee Chair
Media Release March 9 2018
As the deadline for the City of Dryden’s “letter of intent” comes near the Dryden Fire Fighters Association would like to inform the public that none of them will be signing it. After showing this letter to an expert it was described as a classic “union breaker” technique. Dryden CAO Ernie Remillard was then questioned on the letter and his response was “not signing the letter does not imply you will be fired, but that abandoning your post will mean you are resigning”. The DFFA takes this as yet another hostile act by the city administration. Their clear intention was to eliminate half of us and proceed as normal washing their hands of the whole situation. However the letter had the opposite effect. The DFFA stays strongly united and each member submitted their blank unsigned letter with a heartfelt response outlining their continued commitment, they unwillingness to “abandon their post”, but also their unwillingness to respond until labour concerns have been met. The DFFA has again contacted city council as asked to meet to resolve such concerns as soon as possible.
The Dryden Fire Fighters would also like to extend an apology to the citizens of Dryden. This has spiraled out of our control and we are truly regret no being there for you as we have in the past. You are our co workers, neighbours and family members. Protecting you has always given us a sense of pride. We wish to continue to be there for you when disaster strikes, but cannot do so under such toxic conditions.
DFFA Negotiating Committee Chair
Deputy Mayor Nick Beyak Responded at this point through a heavily edited article published to the CKDR website.
The article reported that Deputy Mayor Nick Beyak said –
- I can’t believe it, but it’s solely about alcohol in the firefighter’s club association room”
- Dryden Council had the courage to finally take action and instruct the Fire Chief and CAO to remove booze from the city-owned facility
- Action should have been taken years ago
- There wasn’t one complaint from a firefighter about Chief Ryan Murrell until the city started enforcing the policy, claiming the Association knew a crackdown was coming
- The whole issue surrounds alcohol and members should be ashamed of themselves
- The City would still like to work with the association, and is thanking Barclay, Wabigoon, Oxdrift, and other firefighters for their support.
Media Release March 9 2018 1:10pm – Response to Beyak comments
Nick Beyak’s comments again are a small part of the story. It is a matter of public record that the Dryden Fire Fighters Association attended city council on Jan 12 2018 in an open video taped session to proactively ask for a lease or purchase of our association room because the city was in the process of creating a new municipal policy that was to be enforced. The purpose was to alleviate the liability from whatever went on in that room as it has always been a private locked space only firefighters are allowed into. The association provided proof that liability insurance could be obtained and also informed the city that there is no legal precedent for third party (them as the owner) liability damages in Canada. The city while on camera fully supported the idea and looked forward to discussions but once the cameras were off had very different intentions. The day in question when the CAO Ernie Remillard, Fire Chief Ryan Murrell and four uniformed police stormed in our private room to investigate they found we were 100% compliant with the municipal policy. A short argument occurred as Chief Murrell was confronted by the fact he was know to enjoy all aspects of the room not 60 days before his enforcement. This, and only this led to the dismissal of three long term fire fighters because Murrell was embarrassed that he was exposed in front of his boss. As the DFFA has said before this was the tipping point. This was the point we could take no more. It is impossible to actively work as a fire fighter when you know your fire chief will be the first one to turn on you. The city was given nine business days to reinstate the members and they refused. They were also asked to suspend Murrell for his misconduct and they refused. Since the day we suspended service we have seen the city repeatedly say one thing in the media and say another privately. The only thing the city has offered to the association is to “come back and you have my word we will resolve these issues”. Well the fact is we don’t trust them, how could we? They have always had the power to get us back in service, but they won’t admit a staff member made a mistake. As stated before it is unsafe for us to work under a Chief we don’t trust for a City Council that does not care.
Negotiations Committee Chair
Statement From John Bradley Regarding Deputy Mayor Deyak’s Comments
OK PEOPLE . I first want to say I AM NOT ASHAMED of serving my community. Like Mr. Bayak thinks I should be.
There old policy did not state what properties alcohol was allowed on. The new one does and was created to remove the alcohol from our association room. We the firefighters of Dryden past and present belong to an organization that is call the Dryden Firefighters Association.(DFFA). Just like the Masonic hall group. Or the rotary club. Ect. We are not employee of the city. We raise money to give out in bursaries, community user groups and charities in the city. The city gave us a space in the basement of the fire hall too use as an association room and to us as a room to talk about situation we are involved in. Yes sometimes we have a beer or two but never excessive amour like it was know for when it was down in the police station. I would rather sit down there and talk about my issues with retired firefighters or active ones that understand what I am going through then go to someone that hasn’t the foggiest idea. If there is someone that is having a difficult time with something they are not ignored. We do get them professional help when needed and it has happened. We don’t want our guys sitting at a bar talking about what they just seen or did to joe public where no one is around that can identify if he is struggling with it. The room provides a safe place for our members to do so. That very room is the one and only reason we haven’t had a past member or active member take their own life. It may sound taboo in the public eye but for the DFFA it is a vital part of our operation.
Press Release March 12 2018
Erratic behavior continues from city fire chief Ryan Murrell. The Dryden Fire Fighters Association was not informed but has learned that locks have been changed at Fire Hall #1. This means that if a major disaster such as a hospital fire were to occur and our members put the work stoppage on hold for the greater good, they can not get to the fire trucks that only they are trained on. Yet again I find this irresponsible and completely unacceptable. The DFFA has yet to hear from any city council members regarding a meeting. I have been informed that many concerned citizens are attending tonight’s open council meeting at 7pm to demand answers. City councilors have the power to add the Fire Fighter issue to the agenda if they so choose. Myself and several other members of the DFFA will also be present.
Negotiating Committee Chair
March 12th, 2018 Media Release
Not much to take away from council tonight(last night). One motion for next week to discuss getting back to the table passed. Another to discuss leasing the club room to the DFFA next week would not be seconded by John Carlucci who was the only available councillor. He refused. Refused to approve a motion to discuss it next week. McKinnon also showed his true colours yelling at the pro DFFA crowd who packed chambers, the waiting room and the staircase.
I believe Mr Valleys intention was to extend an act of good faith towards the fireman which would have been greatly appreciated if it had made it to a vote. Whoever controls John Carlucci must have told him to say no to anything because this was a motion to discuss a solution. McKinnon and Carlucci are perfectly content to sit and do nothing. Someone’s house will burn or someone will be killed before this council will act. McKinnon and Carlucci are part of the problem not the solution.
Dryden Fire Fighters Association
March 12th, 2018 Statement
Last night at council John Carlucci said that everyone should take a step back and we give it a couple weeks to let calmer heads prevail.
This community is in a very unsafe position at this time and we don’t have two weeks. There was a fire in a neighbouring community as the council meeting was on. Dryden sent a tanker and three firefighters from hall two. If they would have ask for man power we could not be able to send people because it would have left the city of Dryden in a venerable state. So the community we have been relying on for mutual aid we could not supply them if they were to ask. To me that’s not mutual aid.
I am saddened that this has gotten to this. As a tax payer I am scared of what could happen. I have a hard time sleeping at night knowing that council will not talk and compromise on a solution.
Respectfully John Bradley
Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.