Oliver firefighter let go following controversy

Oliver firefighter let go following controversy

(File photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

A beleaguered firefighter in Oliver has been relieved of his duties on the fire department.

Travis Bolenback was terminated earlier this week by the Town, but it’s not saying why.

Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan said this is a personnel matter and the Town does not have a comment.

But Oliver Fire Chief Bob Graham confirmed that the reason for termination is too many missed practices while on leave of absence.

Bolenback was on leave from the fire department pending the outcome of a criminal charge – being unlawfully in a dwelling house (his neighbour’s) in May of 2017.

• Read more: Oliver firefighter ordered to keep the peace

The case was slated for trial but both the Crown and defence agreed to a 12-month peace bond. Immediately after the judge approved the bond, Bolenback was reinstated as a member of the fire department.

A few days later a group of citizens showed up at a Town council meeting expressing concern with the decision. A spokesperson called for Bolenback’s dismissal, reminding the Town about the fire department’s code of conduct that holds members to a high degree of trust in the community.

Mayor Ron Hovanes said council would discuss the matter in private, and subsequently made the decision.

The Chronicle contacted Bolenback but he declined to comment, saying there’s no point when people only believe in lies.

The complainant in the court case also declined to comment on the termination.

• Read more: Residents oppose firefighter’s reinstatement

But one member of the group that presented to council said the firing due to missed practices is “not much of a way to respond to the questions and concerns of the citizens.”

Shirley Zelinski, who also addressed council, said she’s glad the Town took action in an expedient manner.

She noted that saying Bolenback missed too many practices was the least challenged reason council could give for the termination.

“I think it was mostly public pressure.”

Zelinski said the group of concerned citizens didn’t really want a lot of publicity.

“Some of the women thought they may be threatened or intimidated, so they didn’t want a public uproar.”

Zelinski mentioned the irony of council extending the term of office of fire chief at the same time it was dealing with Bolenback.