Inwood firefighter resign spelling end to department


Sixteen of Inwood’s 20 firefighters have resigned after a long-running dispute with Brooke-Alvinston Council and staff.

Rob Howlett, who up until today was the chief of the Inwood department, says that spells an end to the department which would have celebrated its 70th anniversary this year.

Howlett says the firefighters have long felt under appreciated and the issue came to head recently as new requirements for training were made.

The municipality called the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office to look at both the Inwood and Alvinston departments in 2016. The OFM’s report gave 27 recommendations – many of them dealing with problems with administrative issues including not filing reports according to the OFM’s guidelines and training of the officers. A new chief was hired and a schedule for training was drawn up.

Howlett says the training time doubled taking volunteers away from family more often. There were also concerns about what training was accepted – the Inwood firefighters had been training at their hall however it was not being recognized by council and the chief, says Howlett.

Monday, 16 firefighters – including Brooke-Alvinston Councillor Wayne Deans who has served for over 40 years – resigned. Howlett says it effectively spells an end to the department.

Mayor Don McGugan says it is a difficult situation and he doesn’t have a solution at this time. He’s leaving the door open to talk to the former Inwood volunteers to try to resolve the issue.

In the meantime, calls from Inwood will be taken by the Alvinston department with the help of Oil Springs, Dawn-Euphemia and Petrolia.

For more on the story pick up the May 17th edition of The Independent in a store near you.


  1. Chief Jeff M hasn’t been given the easiest task. Almost like trying to make peace between the Hatfield and McCoys. It’s my understanding that when the search for a chief was undertaken, Steve Knight whom is largely regarded as one of the most respected members of the fire service community applied and was picked over for the current chief. One had to wonder what or whom motivated such a choice?

    Oh that’s right, Steve was likely saw as too qualified and less likely to be influenced by any particular side.

  2. The Inwood firefighters are making it sound like they’re the only firefighters in the province required to meet these MINIMUM STANDARDS!
    You can’t train too much for a job that can kill you – and that’s exactly what this is. How will the community that they “serve” feel when they arrive to a house fire without the proper training to make an interior attack or perform a search?
    As far as feeling underappreciated? Here you go boys “Thank You For Your Service”.

  3. Is Inwood it’s own fire department , are they not a service of the amalgamated municipality of Brook-Alvinston,I think the firefighters in Inwood should know they are part of something bigger than just one station. They do have a point about more time away from home and families , but this a trend elsewhere and as volunteers have been dealing with for over a decade. I would ask what is the downside of receiving training , the training will improve the capabilities of the station , embrace your other station after all we are all brothers and sisters. The province is going to require mandatory training and certification. (granted increased time) I hear some want to see the chief fired , fired for doing a job that has to be done, The OFMEM left 27 recommendations largely training related and documentation. Inwood firefighters need to realize that in most things documentation is required for training , if it’s not documented it didn’t happen . If it’s time to move on so be it ,but say you are not willing to be a part of the station because of time commitment. I as a rate payer (different Municipality) I’m glad our firefighters are trained to NFPA standards (I have been involved in helping our first responders for over 19 years to meet the standards) Please take your head out of the sand and be apart of a positive trend to become a more competent first responder. Councils don’t at times seem to appreciate all you do ,but understand the fire department is only one part of their duties , and can do a better job of taking care of it’s first responders. Embrace being one of two stations and share the pride with Alvinston station ,m I sincerely hope this can be fixed , but if 16 firefighters have to move , so be it ,but don’t blame others, this behavior is almost pathological in nature

    • Former Inwood Firefighters: Thank you for your past services.

      To the 4 Firefighters left standing: make your community proud. Be adults, do not resort to temper tantrums and threats of harm and you will go far–in this and in life.

      To the Alvinston Chief, thank you for caring about your community enough to do what needs to be done.

      Also Former Inwood Firefighters: yes, you were volunteers, often that means to work without pay, remind yourselves WHY you applied to this “job” in the first place. Remind yourselves that you knew part of the “job” means leaving your own families in order to save your neighbours. Thank goodness I am not a resident in your jurisdiction. Thank goodness the fire department responsible for protecting my family is serious about their training and understands the sacrifice that comes along with the glory of being a proud community hero. I (with my family) was given the opportunity to move to your jurisdiction a number of years ago, and while it would have been cheap living, the #1 reason we did not seek a home in Inwood was your FD.

      Yes, increased safety training means decreased family time. In one breath you say you want your community protected but in the other you complain about the amount of training required. This is not the 1970’s. You cannot ignore the evolution of the industry. You must meet the training requirements! Without proper training AND experience you are liabilities. 40 years of experience does not an expert make. Many people who work professionally and on volunteer basis are required to constantly be updating and improving their skills through training. Some of your wives work as Nurses, constantly working to save lives, requiring skills to be kept up to date and current. Some of you have been in serious accidents yourselves and relied on another humans hands to save your life. Yes, this is a VOLUNTEER FD, but it is not a joke and you should dedicate the same, or better, level of commitment to the FD as you do to your paid job. If you can’t juggle both, alongside your other life commitments; this is not the “job” for you.

      I, personally, know many of you. I also, understand what it means to be a Volunteer Firefighter in my (neighbouring to you) community. I, too, have a wife and kids and a full time job. All of which I drop at the sound of that tone, day or night. My wife, kids, boss, etc, know that tone means trouble and trouble means “I gotta go”. They are all intimately aware of the commitment I made when I signed on with my local FD. They all know it comes with sacrifice. It is not enough to hop in my ride and throw my green light on. The commitment, the many sacrifices, the training, the community events, the long, cold, wet/frozen, late nights, the ungodly hours of the morning, the brother & sisterhood, the courteous wave from the 5-0, the acknowledgment from neighbouring brothers and sisters, the pride, the tears, the nightmares, the comraderie…these and many more components are part of the “why” you signed on at all. Forget the politics. Progress does not come without change. Change is necessary for improvement.
      If you cite too much time commitment as your reason for not obtaining the proper and current training, this is not the “job” for you.
      If your family lacks the understanding or intellect to accept that in order for you to be safe out there saving lives you MUST be currently trained beyond CPR and slamming cans at the hall, this is not the “job” for you.

      While you do officially have the silent support (aka we have all been squelched by higher ups in the interest of political neutrality) of your surrounding municipalities, you must also see it from the other side of the coin. Your department is in need of up-to-date training.

      The complexities of what is REALLY going on “behind the scenes” in Lambton County’s rural fire halls is beyond the comprehension of most of the general public. Quite frankly it also seems to be over most of your heads.

      You had the opportunity to rectify this situation in a mature and reasonable manner. You could have just done what many other departments have done and just get the training done! You instead chose to act like a bunch of children and sling mud at council. All but 4 of your members resigned, did you think you’d be begged to stay? Or begged to come back?

      I recently saw a comment by a wife of a former Inwood Firefighter about how council is being “negligent”. I believe if you are going to accuse a party involved of negligence you should take a look in the mirror. Council is not responsible for your training logs and paperwork. Perhaps being diligent in keeping your training up to date would not have lead to this in the 1st place. Negligence, with a side of ignorance is what got you here. Don’t worry sweetheart, we’ve got your back, your response time is better than you think.

      If you are going to point fingers and ask why and where this all started, you need to look within your department.

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