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Suspended Naramata fire chief to be reinstated in wake of bullying, harassment allegations

Naramata fire chief Tony Trovao has been on administrative leave since late October. Skylar Noe-Vack

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen (RDOS) says the beleaguered chief of the Naramata Volunteer Fire Department will be reinstated in the new year.

Tony Trovao, who volunteered with the Naramata fire department for 16 years before becoming fire chief in 2013, has been on paid leave since Oct. 22.

READ MORE: Naramata fire chief still on paid leave, officials tight-lipped

An internal memo issued by RDOS chief administrative officer Bill Newell to firefighters on Nov. 27 and obtained by Global News said Trovao was accused of violating the RDOS harassment, bullying and discrimination policy code of conduct and WorkSafeBC regulations.

Karla Kozakevich, the regional district director for Naramata, said the board of directors met on Dec. 20 and reviewed the status of the administrative leave.

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WATCH BELOW: ‘His name has been dragged through the mud’: Naramata firefighters say suspended fire chief treated unfairly

Click to play video: '‘His name has been dragged through the mud’: Naramata firefighters say suspended fire chief treated unfairly' ‘His name has been dragged through the mud’: Naramata firefighters say suspended fire chief treated unfairly
‘His name has been dragged through the mud’: Naramata firefighters say suspended fire chief treated unfairly – Dec 13, 2018

“As this is an internal personnel matter, it is our policy not to discuss these personnel matters publicly,” she said in an email on Monday.

“The Board of Directors is working towards a positive outcome with the intent of the chief’s reinstatement in January.”

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The RDOS has not revealed the nature of the allegations, but firefighters who spoke to Global News on condition of anonymity on Dec. 13 said there is a small group of discontent members who are unhappy with the leadership at the fire hall.

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However, the members said Trovao champions respect in the workplace and they have never witnessed him bully or harass anyone.

They said they were troubled by how the allegations have been handled and accused the RDOS of creating an “oppressive” atmosphere to “get fire chiefs in line.”

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The South Okanagan Similkameen Fire Chiefs Association has also expressed concern about the handling of the allegations. Spokesperson Denis Gaudry encouraged the timely completion of a third-party investigation.

Trovao has not responded to requests for comment.

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