North Westside residents hold rally seeking answers after fire chief suspended

Suspended firefighter Robert Gajda reads a statement at a rally of North Westside residents. Steve Beskidney / Global News

Dozens of North Westside residents held a rally on Sunday seeking answers about why two senior firefighters, including the fire chief for the area, were suspended indefinitely.

Community members in the rural area of B.C.’s Okanagan Valley are upset that the reasons for the suspensions of fire Chief Jason Satterthwaite and his lieutenant Robert Gajda are not being released.

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Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) said it is not sharing that information for privacy reasons.

Wayne Carson, the former fire chief and a current area director on the regional district board, was also at the rally.

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Carson said the suspensions were not brought to the RDCO’s board of directors to vote on and that he instead found out about the suspensions on social media.

The two senior firefighters have been told they are under a gag order.

Gajda spoke at Sunday’s rally and a written statement from the fire chief was also read aloud.

Both men asked for the truth to be brought to light.

Residents of the North Westside community want the situation resolved quickly as the summer fire season is quickly approaching.

Carson said he will be asking the regional district board to pass a motion that the matter be handed to the Office of the Fire Commissioner for an independent investigation.

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