Twenty-one volunteer firefighters in the village of Thorsby southwest of Edmonton walked off the job this week after their chief was fired.

The firefighters believe Norm Osness, chief for the last 12 years, was fired by village council unfairly.

"It was improper the way they let him go," said firefighter Mike Williams. "The man's got a long, long service.

"We look up to him as a mentor and he's got a lot of long service and he's a key member of our leadership there. We have to stand behind each other."

The firefighters say the chief was fired after he spoke out publicly against village council on an issue unrelated to his job as chief — and they want him re-instated before they'll go back to work.

The Thorsby firefighters told CBC News that the town has hired a five-person replacement crew from the City of Leduc at the cost of $625 an hour, about $105,000 a week.

However, Jason Gariepy, the chief administrative officer of Thorsby, says the cost is $4,000 a day, or $28,000 a week. 

Gariepy said that he's in talks with the chief, but can't promise he'll get his job back. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of our story erroneously stated that the replacement firefighters are from Leduc County. In fact, the replacement crew is coming from the City of Leduc.
    Feb 21, 2014 2:29 PM MT

Clarifications

  • Since this story was first published, there have been questions about the cost of the replacement firefighters. The Thorsby firefighters provided CBC News with the figure of $624 an hour (or $105,000 a week). An earlier version of the story failed to attribute that information to them. Jason Gariepy, the chief administrative officer of Thorsby, said on Friday that the cost of the firefighters is $4,000 a day or $28,000 a week.
    Feb 21, 2014 2:35 PM MT
With files from The Canadian Press