Former Spaniard's Bay firefighter speaks after resignation

Nicholas Mercer
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A former firefighter with the Town of Spaniard’s Bay is speaking out about the mass resignation from the department.

Spaniard's Bay Town Hall

Tilton resident Cory Mahaney is one of the firefighters who resigned during Tuesday's council meeting. A Level II firefighter, he has been a member of the Spaniard’s Bay department for just over year. Previously, Mahaney served with the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department.

During the meeting, Coun. Sheri Collins resigned from her position on council and as a result several firefighters left the department. Collins was also council's liaison with the department.

Tensions ran high when the resignations started and in the wake, the town saw at least 20 members of its 33 member department hand in their pagers. At the time, the Conception Bay North community was left scrambling for fire protection.

Since then, departments in Bay Roberts and Upper Island Cove have stepped up to cover off any calls.

Firefighter Brenda Seymour is at the heart of the controversy. In recent months, she’s levelied accusations of sexual harassment against certain members of the department, amid other complaints.

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In a Facebook message sent to The Compass, Mahaney mentioned numerous instances where Seymour declined to perform a duty requested of her by the fire chief.

He also noted instances when firefighters were given the opportunity to voice any concerns or issues inside during the department, there was no mention of any from Seymour. However, Seymour did bring them up in council after the department had met.

“Mrs. Seymour never voiced her opinion at the fire hall,” wrote Mahaney. “While at the council meeting a few things ... which Mrs. Seymour brought up issues that was mentioned at the fire hall. She had no rights as a firefighter on Thursday nights to bring issues back to the council just because she was councillor when this was the reason Mrs. Sheri Collins attended — it was her job not Brenda’s.”

He believes the problems in the fire department can be traced back to June when Seymour was elected to council as the result of a byelection.

“It's seems to me she has a personal issue with Fire Chief Victor Hiscock and is using her Level 2 Training to her advantage in front of the council to make motions to remove Fire Chief Hiscock terminate his position,” he wrote. “There are lots of firefighters in the department that could be the next chief and not because of Level 2 training either.

“It’s because any firefighter knows same as I do that your fire chief is elected based on his performance, leadership, ... and his day-to-day experience. Which my proud Fire Chief Victor Hiscock has done in the past several years as chief and 17 years as firefighter.”

Mahaney noted that the fire chief gave all he could during his time with the department. He pledged to stand by his chief through this ordeal.

“(Victor Hiscock’s) ability and training should not be questioned,” he wrote. “ He had a big heart, firefighting in his blood and gave 110 per cent to the community,  council and residents. So, there's a big role as in being Chief not just wearing a white helmet with chief on it.”

The council is scheduled to have a meeting with the Department of Municipal Affairs in the future. That follows meetings with the province’s fire commissioner’s office in previous weeks.

nmercer@cbncompass.ca

Elements of this article have been updated.

Organizations: Fire Department, Conception Bay North, The Compass Department of Municipal Affairs

Geographic location: Bay Roberts, Upper Island Cove

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Recent comments

  • Vicki Kell
    January 26, 2016 - 22:40

    20 firefighters resigned showing the public they could not tolerate working with one woman, so bugger off, and stay gone. To the 200 that rallied your an embarrassment and showed your true colors. Brenda receives an apology yet she is still being harassed by firefighters and their wives and now that she remains supported they attack her husband. This is exactly how the NL old boys club works. That community is toxic and I worry for Brenda's safety. I would advise her to make a human rights application, she may have better results then a no good apology.

  • L.
    January 22, 2016 - 15:34

    Shame on these folks in Spaniard's Bay. You have not only embarrassed your town, but your province as well. The Facebook support group has only made this worse as well. If these men have done nothing wrong, then why aren't they speaking out. It's because they're in the wrong!! If the allegations were untrue, then we would have already heard that being said. The other firefighters all walked away from protecting the residents of their town to prove a point. Well, I don't care who you are or what good you have done for your community in the past, if you are standing behind this despicable behavior, then shame on you!!

  • Carter Laing
    January 22, 2016 - 06:52

    WE do not live in the 1400's anymore,this is the 21st century,it's about time to move on in this world, NL has bigger problems then a bunch of old men,still trying to control women, they are equal, all the women that I work with are and even better. So grow up and put a fire department in the town.

  • Carmen
    January 22, 2016 - 01:37

    Perhaps it should be Chief Seymour!

  • Burning Flame
    January 21, 2016 - 21:44

    Mr. Mahoney the day's of electing a fire chief should be well behind you and all fire department who practice this. Councillor Sherri Collins you certainly should resign.

    • Firefighter
      January 23, 2016 - 19:48

      Fire Chiefs are to be appointed by council ,not by election. Here again you guys need to move in 21 century. The chief has demonstrated 0 leadership ability during this situation and during training.

  • Mark H
    January 21, 2016 - 17:29

    Maybe someone will show the videos at the rally tonight and we'll see if anyone speaks up.

  • Dave
    January 21, 2016 - 16:00

    Hey! Hire me! I promise to not show porn when female fire fighters are present! I can out skill ANY of the former male volunteers with that one!

  • Mark H
    January 21, 2016 - 13:25

    Wow! Let's take Mrs. Seymour out of all this controversy for a moment. In the 1970's it may have been "barely acceptable" to flick up a porn scene at a training session ..... but since then the world has moved on to place where this just isn't acceptable. Not in a workplace. Not in a volunteer organization. nowhere. Period. Today, anyone who thinks it's still OK, and decides to do it should be relieved of their duties (looks like that may have been done). Any manager or leader of an organization present if it does happen, and doesn't stop it should be relieved of their duties. And if no one in attendance speaks up to ask that it be stopped then the whole organization needs a significant cultural change that should likely start with "Harassment in the workplace" training.

  • The Real Question
    January 21, 2016 - 10:04

    I've read articles that say Ms. Seymour was subjected to "countless" acts of harrassment since 2009. Her husband was with the same department the whole time. If this is true what kind of man allows this treatment of his wife to go on for so long? There's something not right here.

    • Brenda
      January 21, 2016 - 17:44

      Detracking from the issue. Next

    • Ad
      January 22, 2016 - 15:43

      "Detracting"

  • Babs
    January 21, 2016 - 09:09

    There needs to be a formal investigation as there are some pretty serious accusations going around. It is important for residents of the community to note that these firemen should not have resigned their positions leaving residents of Spaniard's Bay without fire protection, regardless of any conflict within the department or with council. God forbid that there had been a house fire and some poor innocent person lose their life because there were no firefighters available. Sadly, they certainly weren't putting the safety of their community first when they resigned.

  • Different point of View
    January 21, 2016 - 08:54

    This is volunteer fire department and to have 20 resign is unacceptable, especially over this issue. Mrs. Seymour had no right to bring up a personal situation in a council meeting. Sheri Collins as she was appointed by council to do this on her behalf. If Collins was unable to resolve the issue then it should of then went through the proper channels. The public should of not even be aware of this incident as of yet. If municipal affairs does get involved she will be forced to vacate her seat on council. If she was indeed done wrong by the department Council would have taken care of the situation. By speaking out like this it put the town in a bad situation with the department now down 20 members. I just want to add that I am from a town that has a great volunteer fire department which includes several women, they are treated equal and I would trust any member of my department to save me or my family or anyone for that sake and at any time. I am from the GNP !!

    • My point of view
      January 21, 2016 - 10:08

      Just a reply to your post. Maybe the correct channels were not carried out and should have been, but if ever there was a case to cut the red tape Mrs. Seymour certainly has one! One woman and 20 or more men in a room and the instructor decides it's time for a porn movie? The comment made to Mrs. Seymour in the fire chief's office is another reason to override procedure. In position as fire chief it was his duty to deal with these two episodes at the time it surfaced. These people who did these things knew their fire chief .

    • Joey
      January 22, 2016 - 00:45

      I completed agree. 20 resignations over this is completely unacceptable. They should never have quit and put their community at risk. They should also have done everything in their power to ensure that, like your fire department, everyone was truly treated equally and nobody - man or woman - was harassed. It's a real shame (thankfully not tragic) that they didn't stick around to do that. As for her using her position as councillor to raise this issue, I disagree. Although it wasn't handled as well as it could have been from both sides, sexual harassment in a fire department is a community issue. In my opinion council is a valid forum to discuss the issue, even if it was brought up by a councillor right in the middle of events.

    • Firefighter
      January 23, 2016 - 20:05

      Firefighter do not report to town council liaison reps. They report to the Fire Chief. Since the Chief is part of the problem, she has ever write to talk to council. Another town employee , (veteran)who was just let go because he voice his opinion about the situation, feels council cant deal with the situation, and they have no ideal about work place harassment. Being a veteran myself with lots of harassment training I have to agree with Mr .Smith. The instructor the chief blew it

  • concerned
    January 21, 2016 - 07:46

    I think everyone involved need to start acting like adults. You DO NOT leave your community without a vital service to start a he said/she said dramatic spat.

    • newfiechaos
      January 22, 2016 - 07:36

      agreed if they were serious about their positions they wouldn't have resign to me for them to all resign and leave the fire department shows more guilt than anything

  • Doug
    January 21, 2016 - 04:42

    I have no idea of the political situation in the town or how that plays into the complaints. But there is one thing we know for sure: Hiscock allowed a pornographic video to be played during a training session. He's incompetent to lead a professional organization and should resign.

  • Dan
    January 20, 2016 - 21:00

    I'm not from NL but a province away reading this and other stories. To think a person can try and justify this chief who was present during a reference someone masturbated into gear being handed to this woman is absurd. The porn and the other actions in total make your community look like some back woods town full of lunatics. I honestly hope that people leave this woman alone and properly investigate this. Any chief who would have allowed this is not worthy of the office nor even in the work environment. Police also need to look into the threats made by females assocand Ted to these cowardly and perverse men. Good job chief, you've become the laughing stock of Canada.

    • barbaracolbourne
      January 21, 2016 - 23:37

      This woman has been done a severe injustice. Some ladies of Spaniard's Bay are on radio talking about how wonderful their men are. No doubt they are good people, but not when it comes to abusing and disrespecting thieir fellow firefighters. They need to be brought to task for their discrimination against their one female member. Masturbating on clothing that is part of the firefighters clothing gear, porn flicks during training, good God, grow up, and, by the way, some of you guys need your mouths washed out with soap.

  • Frank vely sr
    January 20, 2016 - 20:54

    We need a full time fire dept.to to cover this area.and do away with this small town politics.jus an opinion.

  • ?? have u considered this
    January 20, 2016 - 20:13

    Have you considered this? Take a look back through your records in the compass when the "Cheif" in all of his honor, decided to suspend the lady in question when she wasn't even in the area to defend herself. Is that something a noble Cheif does to his men? Or is it just what he does to his women?! That being said, I guess the women belong in the back stabbing, and back biting position of the firettes brigade, where they are allowed to feed their men, and have their tea parties? Give me a break! The times have changed, and just because you don't want to believe your husband's, brothers, or fathers are at fault here, doesn't mean they aren't. You all have no case. I have heard so many social comments about, "These Men Have....." in favor of the men who stepped down, and not one good comment about, "These Men & Women Have....", because in the eyes of the local community, the majority still doesn't see this woman as an equal to these men...... they don't see her as being a firewoman - AND SHE IS! Like it or not, the fire department is not some local men's club - it is not a place to shine up your dinkies and drink beer - it is a place to support, aid, and protect ALL of the members of your community, and from what I can tell, when there is a fire page in the middle of the night, this WOMAN gets up out of her bed, and saves someone or some thing in the community, just like these men do. I'm not pointing a finger at all of these men, but any of those 20 who walked out, walked out on their community, and turned their backs on those people who need their support, and each and every one of them deserves to be shamed for that simple fact alone. Can you imagine what our country would be like if our police officers all walked out on us? Havoc - plain madness! If you weren't in the wrong, you wouldn't have walked away, from my collective thoughts. It's time to stop blaming the victim - you are all no better than those who blame the victims of rape, for the actions of their rapists! No different! Let me leave you with this last thought - for you fire fighters who made the comments to this woman, and to those who insulted her in any other way, harassed her sexually, and to those who are ridiculing her for standing up for herself - what would you do if it were your daughter? What would you say to the man/men, who had the gaul to make those comments and commit those actions towards her? She may not be your daughter, but she's certainly someone's. Sincerely, Some daughters father

    • Long Winded
      January 21, 2016 - 09:44

      To ?? Considered. At this point its simply an allegation by a woman. That doesn't mean its true or factual. One thing is for sure she made statements she will have to defend herself as she has slandered others. Ah the quest for notoriety!

    • Joey
      January 22, 2016 - 00:51

      At least one of the allegations was admitted to by the person who did it - porn was played by an instructor during training. Get your head out of the sand! There was at least one corroborated occurrence of sexual harassment which was not dealt with properly by the fire chief. I have no reason to doubt anything else that Seymour suggested and every reason to doubt anyone who denies it - it's in their own self-interest not to admit guilt. That isn't to say that what she said happened actually occurred just that there's no evidence presented to believe otherwise.