The Thorsby fire chief whose firing sparked a walkout by the entire volunteer force believes he was let go for criticizing village council.
Norm Osness told CBC News on Friday that he lost his job for agreeing with local business people who were disappointed they weren’t able to bid on village projects before out of town businesses had a chance.
“I said as a businessman myself, I totally agree with these guys,” Osness said. “And with that, I was done.”
The 21 Thorsby volunteer firefighters walked off the job earlier this week because they believe council treated Osness unfairly. They remained off the job on Friday.
The move has forced Thorsby to contract a fire crew from the city of Leduc at a cost of $4,000 a day or $28,000 a week.
Thorsby chief administrative officer Jason Gariepy won't provide a reason for the firing saying that it is a personnel matter between Osness and the interim CAO.
Gariepy, who started in his job this week, says that he wants to enact rules to formalize the relationship between the village and the fire chief.
And he suggested the next person who becomes chief needs to have a different attitude.
“I need a fire chief that's willing to accept the new ways of doing business in Thorsby,” Gariepy said.
Gariepy says the village can’t afford a long-term battle with the volunteer force but says some contingency plans are in place.
Osness wants a second chance but it’s not clear that he will get it. Gariepy has met with the former chief and says that all options are on the table.