They’re free to quit

If volunteers don't like what's going on in their organization, their course is clear

Re: Chief suspended, CAO “on leave” (The NEWS, April 11).

Alas, more fire hall controversy. Remember, a volunteer is a volunteer. A volunteer is not synonymous with power, credential, experience or accountability.

Coun. Scott Tanner is again refreshingly making insightful comments. Unhappy or unwilling volunteers are always free to quit.  No-one is indispensable.  If I die today, the world goes on.  Many young new fully-certified firefighters anxiously wait to be hired at a fire station.  Meanwhile, they bide their time, sometimes for years, by volunteering or going on call. Newly retired firefighters also volunteer.

We have noted Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer’s militaristic and police approach of squelching people’s concerns at meetings as well as his abrupt and harsh manner of dispensing with a problem. This method may indeed be easier than the mayor’s. Teunis Westbroek provides compassion and diplomacy while respecting peoples’ rights, feelings and legalities with patience, privacy and competence, a more difficult path.

According to Westbroek, as quoted in The NEWS, the troubles are “between two individuals” and deals with “interpersonal friction.” Westbroek said he has not “had a complaint from a firefighter indicating a problem.“ The mayor “is taking the issues seriously”and he is correct in attesting that fire departments attract “a mix and variety of people who come into a semi-paramilitary organization . . . and therefore going to have their opinions on how things are handled.”

Firehalls, like other workplaces, will have personnel problems from time to time. A volunteer is only a volunteer.  But when people work together with kindness and respect, many problems can be solved. God bless all the volunteers who hold Qualicum Beach together.

Sylvia Hofstetter


Qualicum Beach