The chief of the Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department has resigned amid increasing discontent among his members over fire safety training.
Todd Schley will leave his post Feb. 15, after six years with the department, according to the Cariboo Regional District.
The CRD’s interim CAO Brian Carruthers said Schley’s resignation is in no way a reflection on his abilities or his commitment to the department. He noted that during his tenure, Schley had ensured there was a strong focus on public safety education and awareness, as well as dealing with disruptions due to COVID-19 and declining membership levels.
“However, it was also apparent that the department is very fractured and it was very difficult for Chief Schley to lead the department in a cohesive way given the fracturing,” Carruthers said. “So him stepping down has opened the door to a potential new leader who can come in and maybe be able to appeal to the broader group. That will be seen if that is possible.”
The announcement comes after the CRD brought in an impartial, independent third-party professional in January to evaluate the situation, following complaints from members about too-rigid training standards.
At that time, Carruthers said a number of the members of the Interlakes Fire department did not agree with the approach that the CRD has taken with respect to training at rural fire departments.
The assessment included speaking with both the IVFD leadership and members, looking at their training records and the work they’re doing as a department.
Carruthers added that the most important aspect of the situation was the public who rely on fire department services. The CRD is responsible for 14 fire halls across the Cariboo - six in the South Cariboo area. The Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department has three halls.
At the end of the day, training is required, he said. The board has no choice but to ensure its fire department is adequately trained and operating professionally.