Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Osborne fire hall gets monitor after sexual misconduct

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THE Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is moving a senior officer into the Osborne Village fire hall, where a woman claimed she had sex with an on-duty firefighter.

A district chief and his aide will soon move in to the No. 4 station at Osborne Street and Stradbrook Avenue from the No. 13 station on Lilac Street in Fort Rouge, Deputy Chief Ken Sim said Thursday.

The personnel move, which will also see a two-person paramedic unit move from the Osborne station to Lilac, is being conducted to restore public confidence in the hall, which is close to busy Osborne Village bars and restaurants.

"It's the highest population density of anywhere in Winnipeg. The interaction at that station is always far and above anywhere else in the city," Sim said.

"By putting in a senior officer, it will be a constant reminder that someone who has a lot of tenure and experience is present in the hall. It has to be a safe haven, if the public comes there for whatever reason they come in there, and they will be treated with respect."

The incident that sparked the move took place on July 25, when an on-duty firefighter was involved in a sexual encounter with a woman who passed by the fire hall.

The United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg initially said the pair was "just kissing," but the firefighter in question, a married veteran of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, was suspended, demoted and then transferred to another unit.

But earlier this month, the woman in question came forward to the Free Press and claimed she and the firefighter had sex while she was intoxicated and she felt the firefighter had taken advantage of her.

She also said the WFPS made no effort to get her side of the story.

The WFPS has since turned the investigation over to the Winnipeg Police Service and the file remains open, Sim said.

The district chief who will move into the Osborne hall will be responsible for operations at seven stations.

The chief will also serve an educational function for the firefighters on the site as well as provide the form of visual presence the public needs, Sim said.

"The simple reality is, in light of the more recent incidents we had there, we felt it was very important to try and restore the confidence of the public in that station.

"Unfortunately, it was the action of one individual who eroded that confidence," Sim said.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 11, 2009 A3

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