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Bridger Canyon firefighters say rift is taking toll between department, trustees

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 24 2013 10:36:39 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 24 2013 10:52:06 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Two Bridger Canyon Fire trustee spots are up for grabs in the May election. The current trustees are running for re-election, but two firefighters decided to join the race. 

"I can't not do something, and so here I am," said firefighter Larry Blackwood, who threw his hat into the ring along with medical officer Ella Darham.

Both said they're running because there's a huge rift between the department and board, which they hope to fix.

"The firefighters are definitely not being heard," Durham said.

They said the board isn't listening to the department, and that it all started with the controversial issue over whether to allow alcohol in the Community Room.

Some firefighters didn't want it, but members of the community did. In the end trustees voted 'no,' but firefighters said the damage was already done.

"The firefighters are not trusting the board to really pay attention to what we have to say, and when we do bring something up it's definitely -- we have the feeling that it's ignored," said firefighter Sara Martin.

And they said it's taking a toll on the department. Morale is now at a huge low, they said.

We did speak with a trustee who didn't want to talk on camera. He said no one's approached the board with any specific issues, and said they've given the department several chances to speak up at meetings.

"I really think there needs to be better communication," said firefighter Ryan Finn.

Like Finn, those in the department said there's been a total lack of communication -- and they said things need to get better soon.