Members of the London Professional Fire Fighters Association voted Tuesday against Acting Deputy Chief Jack Burt. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Firefighters want deputy chief Jack Burt gone, sources say

Two days after London’s fire chief abruptly retired amid allegations of widespread bullying in the department, members of the firefighters’ union say they have no confidence in acting deputy fire chief Jack Burt, either.

Sources say Tuesday night’s vote happened during a routine union meeting.

There were other items on the agenda but someone brought up what has been described as a culture of fear and bullying in the fire department, asking for a vote of non-confidence against Burt.

The vote was not unanimous but a clear majority voted that they had no confidence in Burt, sources said.

“The meeting was a regular meeting but obviously there was a lot of discussion of recent developments,” the source said.

CBC News has spoken to multiple firefighters who say they’ve faced retaliation for speaking out against managers or for standing up for co-workers, and who fear more retaliation if they are identified in the media.

“I think everyone is looking at this time as an opportunity to shine a light on the people who are responsible for the climate at the fire department,” the firefighter said.

Burt was seen as Fire Chief John Kobarda’s right hand man.

He took over as acting chief in July 2017.

Before that, he was a fire prevention inspector. He took on the role of acting deputy chief after an investigation into the conduct of Deputy Fire Chief Brian McLaughlin, who was last seen leaving a fire hall in April 2017. Sources say McLaughlin hasn’t been back since.

While the vote doesn’t force Burt’s dismissal, it does signal to city hall the mood at the fire department.

London Professional Fire Fighters Association president Jason Timlick said Wednesday afternoon that he can’t comment about confidential union business.

“It’s improper to comment on any association business until I have a face-to-face meeting with (City Manager) Martin Hayward and city managers. That meeting is happening (Thursday) morning,” Timlick said.

Calls to Burt were not immediately returned.

Source: Firefighters want deputy chief Jack Burt gone, sources say – London – CBC News