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Bridger Canyon Fire trustee: Fire department not speaking up about issues

By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Anchor, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 25 2013 07:30:19 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 25 2013 09:59:12 PM MDT
Bridger Canyon Fire Department
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A Bridger Canyon Fire trustee said they've done everything they can to help improve the department and board's communication, after firefighters say a rift is taking a toll on the department.

NBC Montana first reported on Wednesday how some firefighters feel a huge disconnect with the board.

So much so, they say it's taking a toll on morale. They said one firefighter quit, and two others are now running in an upcoming election in hopes of ousting two trustees.

They said there's been a number of issues -- from a debate on whether to allow alcohol in the community room, to what they thought was a suspiciously sparked review of the fire chief.

Firefighters said there's a lack of communication that needs to get fixed immediately.

On Thursday we talked with Trustee Chairman Mike Conn about the situation. He explained board meetings are always open to the public, and they've held special meetings to help open communication with the department. He they've given firefighters every chance to speak up.

But, Conn said, the department has hardly brought any specific issues to the table -- or steps on how to move forward.

"We've had minimal attendance, only a couple of people have spoken," Conn said. "They have raised no substantive issues."

Conn said he believes the board has done a great job handling the department and community's needs, and did listen to firefighters by voting 'no' during the recent controversial debate on whether to allow alcohol in the community room.

"We listened, we have listened, we will listen -- and we'll do it in the future," Conn said, adding, "The door is always open -- I have made this statement repeatedly on training rights as well as in board meetings."