Comment on Bozeman Chronicle Article

The following was recently posted on the Safety Coalition website:

We were just alerted to the following comment that was posted on the Bozeman Daily Chronicle website in reaction to their article about the finding against the Board of Trustees by the Commissioner for Political Practices and the new interim fire chief at the department:

To Mike Conn, Peggy Foster and Colleen “you’ll rot in hell” Carnine, it must seem longer, but it’s been BARELY 18 months since this cozy crew drove away Chief Astrom and 17 other experienced volunteer fire fighters. Now we find out that the newly appointed Chief’s wife, Phyllis Mather, was involved in the illegal activity that enabled Foster and Carnine to retain their seats on the Board! Peggy Foster claims it’s unfair for her to be held responsible for her illegal activities, but what about the unfairness to District residents and visitors who no longer have the protection of competent volunteer firefighters? Carnine held on to her seat by a handful of votes. Mike Conn was recalled, but he still seems to be pulling the strings. Is there nobody who can convince Conn, Foster and Carnine that it is time for them to move over and let someone who can make peace with the firefighters to take over?

(Note the “you’ll rot in hell” nickname for Carnine is a reference to a comment she purportedly made to a supporter of her recall that was reported in a sworn affidavit.)

You can read the full Chronicle report here.

BCFD Troubles: A Review

In reporting on the resignation of Perry Shane as BCFD Fire Chief and the Commissioner for Political Practice’s ruling of campaign violations by the BCFD Trustees and their supporters, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle referred to the Board as “beleaguered.” For a nice summary of how the board managed to get themselves into such a state, the Chronicle has posted a collection of all the articles they’ve written about the problems that have occurred since November of 2012, which you can read here.

After reading in the Chronicle current article about the appointment of Ted Mather as interim chief, someone calling themselves “ExFF” posted the following comment on the paper’s web site:

“What a joke, someone with two years and literally no actual experience is qualified to be a fire chief!? And when Dan Astrom was chief he was a lot more than an “administrator”. I have been in the trenches with him more times than I can count. Mike Conn is delsuional and trying to convince everyone that the ship isn’t sinking.”

Except for the typo, we couldn’t agree more.

An interesting thing about the selection of the interim chief is that there were two candidates, Mather and Mike Conn. We heard that before making their decision, the board actually asked the firefighters for their recommendations. If the board in fact voted consistent with the firefighters recommendations, then many of the current firefighters apparently are no more enamored with Mike Conn than the previous firefighters were. If that’s the case, than here’s a thought, get Mike Conn off the department completely and invite the former firefighters to rejoin the department. A good number of them likely would, bringing much needed experience back into the district.

One final note, if the board then led by Mike Conn had thought to ask (and act in accordance) with firefighters preferences back during the alcohol debacle, the department and the board would not be in their current beleaguered state.

This Blog is Going on Hiatus

Effective today, you won’t be seeing new posts on this blog. The ex-firefighters started the blog because we felt the situation at the Bridger Canyon Fire Department and the flagrant misbehavior and potentially illegal activity of the Board of Trustees was not well known to the residents of the fire district we served. We felt that, if more people knew about the situation, they might want to do something about it. Now it appears that is exactly what has happened. The Bridger Canyon Fire District Safety Coalition has started an effort to recall the Board of Trustees and a legal investigation of the actions of the board is underway. We like to think that the information provided here helped to spur this effort; the over 19,000 page views on the blog in the last four months suggests that may in fact be the case.

The Safety Coalition has their own website now at www.bcfdsafetycoalition.org and they are putting a wealth of important information on their site. So, there is no need to continue to post relevant developments here.

If the situation changes, we may post again in the future, but that is not anticipated. The ball is in the hands of the Safety Coalition and the fire district residents now. We will be watching the developments and hope they remember that, as we’ve mentioned before, we’re here if you want us.

Not Good Enough

During a news interview with KTVM today, acting BCFD Chief Dennis Guentzel said the board is “moving ahead the best we can.”

Well, Denny, that’s just the point isn’t it; you and the rest of the board are moving ahead the best you can but you continue to demonstrate that your best isn’t good enough. Canyon safety protection is still minimal. It’s time you realized that the best way to move forward is to resign.

Oh, and before you falsely state yet again that you were blind-sided by events, please go back and review the board’s own audio tapes of the monthly meetings for the last 9 months or so. They  contain ample reminders of how many times you were told by the firefighters they were going to have to quit if things didn’t change and how many times members of the community told you they wanted you gone and were willing to pursue a recall to achieve that if you didn’t go voluntarily. It’s all there on the tapes, just listen. Then do the right thing. Please. You’ll sleep better and so will the rest of the district.

We’re Here If You Want Us

A canyon resident and supporter of both the BCXFD firefighters and the Safety Coalition recall effort walked into the gym today and received a standing ovation. He couldn’t figure out why until he realized it was because he was wearing his BCXFD t-shirt.

We were quite heartened to hear this story as it helps us to know how strong our support is out there. But we hope the public realizes that the whole recall effort is not about us, at least not directly. It is about accountability in public officials. It is about wise use of taxpayer resources. But most of all it is about public safety and property protection in the Bridger Canyon Rural Fire District. The ex-firefighters are one of the means by which a high level of safety was achieved in the past and, under better circumstances, are willing to be part of that effort again.

We wish good luck to the BCFD Safety Coalition with their recall petitions. We hope others in the canyon will join in with the Coalition’s effort. We are here if you want us, as we have been for the last four months since our departure from the fire department. You know what you need to do to get us back. Until then we remain proud to have served and ready to serve again.