Nearly 1,000 sign petition calling for province to drop charges against Wyoming firefighter

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Blossom Smith knows Wyoming Firefighter Neil Bain was only doing his job when he went out on a snowy highway in March 2013 and she doesn’t think he should be charged for doing it.

The Alvinston woman, whose husband was the chief of the Alvinston fire department, was one of nearly 1,000 people who signed a petition in support of Bain, asking for the province to withdraw a charge of careless driving against the volunteer.

Bain was driving one of two fire vehicles destroyed in a multi-vehicle pileup on the 402 on a snowy night over two years ago. The trucks were in the centre of the collision and Bain was the only person charged that night.

His chief, Mike Vasey, has long maintained the charge was unjust – suggesting it could have been politically motivated since local politicians were complaining about the winter maintenance of the highway.

Bain will stand trail on the charge this fall but the Wyoming Firefighters Association is gathering names on a petition to have the province step in and drop the charge.

There was plenty of support for Bain at the firefighters’ Bacon Burger event over the weekend where 49 pages of signatures were collected, including Smith’s.

“My husband was a fireman, too,” she says recalling the dangerous situations her husband faced. “He went out on roads they shouldn’t have been out on…but he was out there doing his job.”

“It’s totally outrageous,” says Koert Nieuwenhuis while waiting in line to sign the petition. “This has nothing to do with traffic.”

“It’s a bunch of garbage,” says Nickie Wade of Sarnia. “They trying to stick the fire department with the blame.”

“I think it is ridiculous what they did to the fire fighter,” says Robert Annett of Petrolia. “I don’t understand it; it sounds like pure politics to me.”

Chief Mike Vasey was pleased with the show of support saying it is only the beginning of the campaign. The firefighters’ association will circulate the petition until September.

And other fire departments, worried about the effect having a volunteer firefighter will have on their departments, also want to gather signatures. “We have had requests from all over the province really, one is going to Thunder Bay,” says Vasey.

The chief hopes MPP Bob Bailey will present the petition in the legislature in October, before Bain goes to trial.