The reputation of Winnipeg firefighters has taken a major hit in recent weeks after news of a so-called "sex tryst" became public.
A veteran member has been suspended and re-assigned after admitting he breached his duties by engaging in a kiss with a young woman who was visiting his Osborne Street fire station.
A new investigation was launched last week after the woman came forward to the Free Press, claiming fire officials made no attempt to speak with her to obtain her side of the story. The 24-year-old waitress says the on-duty firefighter "took advantage" of her while she was severely intoxicated and the pair had sex in an equipment shed.
Police are also investigating and might consider criminal charges.
This week, fire officials announced a district chief and his driver/aide will soon move in to the station. The personnel move is being conducted to restore public confidence in the hall, which is no stranger to controversy and is in close proximity to the busy Osborne Village bar-and-restaurant district.
Now a Winnipeg firefighter is speaking out, expressing his "concern and frustration" over what is happening in his department. For obvious reasons, he wishes to remain anonymous, but asked me to share his letter with the public.
It reads as follows:
I am a veteran Winnipeg Firefighter and am extremely disgusted with this individuals behaviour. I am also disappointed in the lack of action taken in response to this behaviour.
The vast majority of Winnipeg firefighters and firefighters in general exemplify the firefighting code of honour, respect and service to others.
We pride ourselves on our professionalism, ethics and conduct in the service of the citizens. Firefighters do not hesitate to risk their lives for the citizens and would lay down their life to protect both the citizens and their brother firefighters.
With this honourable and proud calling comes a great deal of responsibility. Through this proud service we earn the trust and respect of our community.
The actions of this individual have damaged the reputation of all firefighters and taken away a great deal of this trust and respect.
As firefighters, we are called to a higher standard and must continue to act in such a way at all times.
This individual does not deserve to call himself a firefighter as he obviously does not hold his position or the fire service in as high a regard.
He has shown great disrespect to himself, the community, his family and his brothers in the fire service.
It serves nothing to hide or cover up his behaviour. The Winnipeg Fire Department owes it to the citizens and the firefighters to seriously and honestly deal with this individual and remove him from his position of trust and authority if he does not resign on his own.
I would implore everyone to please not judge the whole of our department or firefighters in general based on the disgusting behaviour of this individual "firefighter" who does not deserve such a title or the pride, trust and responsibility that comes with it.
Stay safe and know that in any emergency the proud and dedicated firefighters of this city will be there to answer your call with honour and professionalism.
"Joe Firefighter" Winnipeg
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