The Problem With Wearing Two Hats

Pipestone Flyer

            Norm Osness, Former Thorsby Fire Chief, remains at a loss to explain why he was forced to hang up his helmet by then Interim CAO, Kevin Robins. Council and Administration are on record saying his dismissal was not related to his role as fire chief; rather due to a “Management issue.”  

        Osness, a resident of Thorsby and business owner of Alberta Fire Gear Cleaning, said the problem started when he spoke out as a business owner on behalf of other business owners.  

        “I spoke up for two businesses in the Village (Thorsby) Office lobby. They agreed with our concerns.  I was invited to a meeting of staff and managers and a week later, I was fired.  I have absolutely no idea what is going on. Robins then went to the fire hall and rudely spoke to the men.  They stuck up for me.”  And in a show of solidarity, they resigned.

        Osness said he then went to see CAO Jason Gariepy, along with Assistant Chief Darryl Knopp and Deputy Chief Neil Filipic, on the Thursday following Gariepy’s appointment on February 18, “I was hoping for a second chance and was hoping to give the firefighters a second chance. We even told him the firefighters would be back on the job the next day. But he said no.”

        Osness says he wishes the Interim Fire Chief the best of luck.  “I don’t know what the whole objective is. They spent a whole year’s budget in one week after we offered to come back.  I don’t get it and neither do the guys.”

        When asked to elaborate on the meaning of “Management issue,” Osness said Robins asked him if he considered himself a “manager.”  Osness said no—because he was never specifically invited to take part in any management meetings or discussions.  In fact, Osness said the extent of his being a manager was to provide Council with a yearly budget in person. “I suppose I was, but I didn’t think I was considered a manager. No one talked to me like I was a manager; I was just Chief.” 

        Digging deeper, could Osness have been infringing on some Fire Department policy or in breach of Village of Thorsby policy when he expressed his opinion wearing his business owner’s hat?  When he became Fire Chief, was he required to take an oath to refrain from publicly disagreeing with any administrative stand?

        “No!  There are no rules, no oaths, nothing.  I wish they had told me the rules. In fact, twelve years ago, we made rules for the fire department—dress codes, how to address people at an accident scene, responsibilities…” etc. Osness looked at the whole picture while developing that policy. He was concerned for the families of the firefighters under his watch, so he had the spouses sign a document explaining what being married to a firefighter was all about and they had to be on board. 

        Osness said he met Robins only two times on a “How ya doing?” basis during the few months he was Interim CAO.  He wonders why his elected officials would take the word of a guy who was here for such a short time and not the words of twenty-two guys in the fire department…guys who live, work, own businesses and property in the community.  Norm Osness, who wore two hats—as a Fire Chief and as a business owner—wants you to know, “We asked to come back.”

Just Posted

Unsightly premises fees added to County of Wetaskiwin tax bill

Property owner cannot be located, so contractor cleaned yard

Alberta RCMP reminds Albertans how to be ‘egg-stra’ safe this Easter

Put away phone while driving, plan for a designated driver

Wetaskiwin’s Leaders of Tomorrow honoured Apr. 8

Four youth impress the Wetaskiwin community

UPDATED Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin winner Wilson says Alberta wanted change

UPDATED Both Rick Wilson and Mark Smith had no trouble Apr. 16 with opposing parties

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Almost a year ago Kenney dismissed Trudeau as a dilettante and a lightweight

‘Open for business:’ Jason Kenney’s UCP wins majority in Alberta election

The UCP was leading or elected in 63 of 87 seats Tuesday night

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Undercover cops don’t need warrant to email, text suspected child lurers: court

High court decision came Thursday in the case of Sean Patrick Mills of Newfoundland

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Most Read