Investigation into Naramata fire chief could wrap up before year end

An outside company has been investigating Naramata fire chief since Oct. 22 when he was suspended

The regional district chair is hoping the board will have answers about the suspended Naramata fire chief’s conduct at it’s Dec. 20 meeting.

Karla Kozakevich, chair of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and director for Area E (Naramata) said in late October a private contractor was hired to investigate written complaints against Naramata fire chief Tony Trovao. Although a report might be complete in time for the Dec. 20 meeting, depending on findings, a decision might not be made on Trovao’s suspension or employment with the RDOS until after the board can speak with it’s own human resources about further steps, Kozakevich said.

She clarified the contractor’s job is to investigate, interview and compile a report, but would not provide recommendations on Trovao’s employment with the RDOS.

The report will be presented in an in-camera session, in accordance with the Local Government Act when dealing with employee matters.

Related: Naramata fire chief suspended

“We’re not certain the report will come forward by then, but we’re hopeful,” Kozakevich told the Western News.

“We don’t want anything dragging out, but at the same time it has to be a thorough, complete investigation. We have to know the investigator looked into the issue and did his job to thoroughly to investigate it,”

Trovao was suspended with pay on Oct. 22 after an in-camera session by the board of directors on Oct. 18.

The suspension stems from a formal written complaint received at the RDOS about Trovao’s behaviour, which alleges he is in contravention of bullying and harassment policies at the RDOS and Worksafe BC.

Kozakevich said she could not talk about the complaints or how many complainants had come forward.

She noted since it was decided in April 2018 to repeal a bylaw that saw the fire chiefs report to staff at the RDOS, they have since been direct employees of the board.

Related: Naramata Fire Department celebrates 60 years

“The fire chiefs are under control of the politicians. There are 19 politicians that are their direct bosses. We are not human resource managers or investigators so we decided to hire a company to tell us if they think those complaints are valid or not,” she said.

Since Trovao’s suspension, negative comments have surfaced on social media, which prompted the RDOS to issue a memo to firefighters to adhere to the RDOS policies. or they themselves could be investigated for their conduct.

“The letter that went out on Nov. 27 was in response to awareness coming to the RDOS that online negative comments by firefighters were directed at the complainant and the RDOS through social media,” she said. “It’s unfortunate there is so much speculation and chatter. We are wanting people to just stay out of it and let it go through its course.”

Trovao was a firefighter for 16 years prior to becoming the Naramata fire chief in 2013.

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