|Photo courtesy of Support the Spaniard's Bay Fire Department Facebook group|
Cory Mahaney lived for firefighting.
You can hear it in his voice when he tells you one of his many stories. And, after almost 10 years of volunteer firefighting, he has a great number of stories to tell.
It was Mahaney’s love for firefighting which made it so difficult for him to hand over his pager this past Tuesday night. Mahaney resigned.
But he was not alone. This past Tuesday night, Jan. 19, at least 20 members of the 33 members, including chief Victor Hiscock, as well as town counselor and liaison Sheri Collins, also resigned.
In the wake of the mass resignations, which crippled the station’s ability to operate effectively, fire stations in neighbouring communities Bay Robert’s and Upper Island Cove have pledged their assistance in filling the void.
But, during winter months when the roads are icy and storms often come unexpectedly, making travel difficult one wonders, is it enough to depend upon neighbouring stations?
At the heart of the scandal is a series of allegations of misconduct and sexual harassment made by Brenda Seymour, both a level II firefighter and a town counsellor.
Seymour, speaking with the CBC earlier this week, claimed that a brief clip of a pornographic film was shown during an instructional class.
She spoke of another incident where a fellow firefighter made a joke about several male firefighters’ masturbating onto one of her belongs, among other complaints of harassment and misconduct.
At a Nov. 16 council meeting this past year, Seymour called for the suspension of fire Chief Victor Hiscock.
The motion was defeated.
The mass resignations has left residents of Spaniard’s Bay bewildered, shocked, and uncertain.
Many in the town have rallied to show their support of the firefighters.
Kate Davis, the daughter of Randy Davis, assistant chief, created the Facebook group ‘Support the Spaniard’s Bay Fire Department’ Tuesday night, at 11:43 pm. At the current time of writing, the group has 884 members.
“We as a town need to come together and support our loyal and dedicated members!!” reads the group’s description, written by Davis.
“It’s making me mad and upset that these men (including my father) are being accused for sexual harassment. I grew up with these men and they are a bunch of awesome guys who are dedicated to our community, and to see them getting the bad end of this is horrible,” said Davis via Messenger.
“No one knows how personally it’s affecting the family members”
On the Facebook page, one finds various shared photos of the firefighters and their families, comments offering love and support, as well as memes promoting volunteer firefighting.
Mahaney, one of the firefighter who resigned, has written a public rebuttal to Seymour’s story. The write up, which has been submitted to several news outlets and is available on the Facebook page, states that Seymour is using ‘this porn video issue to her advantage and making believe she’s being provoked.... trying to convince council that she should be the next chief...”
“My only concern now is the residents,” said Mahaney via a telephone interview.
There will be a rally tonight at the Spaniard's Bay town hall.
Seymour could not be reached for comment.
For Seymour’s CBC article, click here : http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/spaniards-bay-brenda-seymour-harassment-1.3409859
For Mahaney’s Compass article, click here: http://www.cbncompass.ca/News/Local/2016-01-20/article-4410444/Former-Spaniards-Bay-firefighter-speaks-after-resignation/1