Esquimalt was until Jan this year the last surviving FD to still run a 50/50 split Municipal police/FD, where the staff were cross trained and did shifts for both. The City of Victoria wanted to absorb Esquimalt "into the fold", but they were also going to move apparatus and bodies around too, and the locals were none to happy about it. This is the latest in the fall out:
Esquimalt firefight heads into court
Firefighters file suit against mayor for response time comment
Sandra McCulloch Times Colonist Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Victoria firefighters and Esquimalt Mayor Darwin Robinson have asked B.C. Supreme Court to settle a dispute over comments Robinson made after two fires in Vic West and Esquimalt.
The comments referred to the response time of the Victoria firefighters.
Richard Farrell, president of the Victoria Fire Fighters Association, has filed suit against Robinson on behalf of 105 firefighters employed by Victoria.
Farrell alleges Robinson defamed the firefighters in comments he made after a Vic West blaze in December 2002 and one in Esquimalt in April 2003.
Robinson denies he defamed them and adds that the firefighters' civil action is not legal because it was not filed under the Class Proceedings Act.
Robinson also says comments he made in a letter to Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe "were published on an occasion of qualified privilege" and that Robinson was "under a social or public duty" to make them.
Farrell says in his statement of claim that "the response time of the relevant fire department to a report of a fire is a matter of great importance:
"The longer the response time ... the greater the risk of life and property at the location of the reported fire."
Esquimalt council ratified an agreement with Victoria on Sept. 9, 2002: Victoria would take over firefighting duties in Esquimalt, which previously had relied on its own combined police/firefighting service. Victoria council ratified the agreement on Sept. 12.
Robinson was elected mayor on Nov. 16. In the first week of December, Esquimalt council attempted to set up its own fire department but backed down after Victoria took legal action, alleging a breach of contract.
On Dec. 11, 2002, a fire broke out in Vic West at 903 Hereward Rd. Victoria firefighters state in court documents that they responded in three minutes and 45 seconds.
Robinson subsequently wrote a letter to Lowe in which he said the response time of the Victoria Fire Department was longer. Robinson suggested Esquimalt-based firefighters could have responded sooner than their Victoria counterparts. He repeated his statements for CH Television.
A fire on Fernhill Road in Esquimalt on April 13 prompted more criticism from Robinson about Victoria Fire Department's response. Again, Robinson said he had a social or public duty to make the comments.
Farrell, on behalf of the firefighters, asked Robinson to apologize for his comments on the two occasions. Farrell did not receive an apology, says the statement of claim.
But Robinson said a public apology was made through the media in which he expressed his regret that his comments may have been perceived as calling into question the ability of Victoria's firefighters. Robinson added he had the "highest regard for the professionalism, skills and abilities of Victoria Fire Department's officers and firefighters."
The firefighters state in the court papers that their character, credit and reputation have been seriously injured by the Esquimalt mayor's comments. Robinson said because his comments did not single out any individual member of the Victoria Fire Department, his comments were not in a legal sense defamatory.
The firefighters are seeking unspecified general damages and court costs from Robinson.
Robinson is asking the court to dismiss the action.
© Copyright 2003 Times Colonist (Victoria)
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10-01-2003, 10:47 AM #1
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10-01-2003, 12:21 PM #2
Re: More "big City/small Town" FightingRobinson said because his comments did not single out any individual member of the Victoria Fire Department, his comments were not in a legal sense defamatory.Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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