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Bridger Canyon fire trustees call public meeting in hopes to end dispute

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Nov 14 2013 10:41:09 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

We continue to bring you the latest developments on a rift at the Bridger Canyon Volunteer Fire Department. We began following this story in November 2012 when several firefighters protested a plan to allow alcohol in the community room. The trustees did unanimously vote against the plan, but the controversy continued.

In April 2012,  two firefighters unsuccessfully ran in the board of trustees election in hopes of ousting two trustees. A month later the chief and at least 18 fire fighters quit.

More recently in September, a group of residents wrote up a recall petition in hopes of kicking out the trustees. They are called the BCFD Safety Coalition. According to the groups website, they say the board violated open meeting laws and held unannounced meetings.

Thursday afternoon the trustees held a special meeting to figure out where to go next. We were there as more than 20 residents and board members packed the community room. The purpose of the meeting was to decide if the board should take legal action against the people trying to recall the board members.

William Hanson is representing the Bridger Canyon Rural Fire District and addressed some of the issues listed on the safety coalitions website.

"The provisions of the open meeting law requiring public notice and public participation do not apply in emergency situations," said Hanson. 

Hanson suggested instead of legal action, they hold an open meeting with residents to work everything out. He also recommended a neutral mediator to be present to keep the discussion as calm as possible.

Mike Conn is the board chair and weighed in on this idea.

"What we need are the people who haven't decided, or the people that have been approached by the safety coalition on the side and mislead to come here and hear the whole thing," said Conn.

The board agreed to hold this meeting but says they're still keeping the option of a lawsuit on the table. Board members will now be deciding when is the best time for everyone to get together. Conn said they hope to schedule the meeting as soon as possible with the holidays right around the corner.