Gold River firefighters who walked out in solidarity with fire chief after she was fired last week, returned to resume their duty at the fire hall. Photo courtesy, Gold River Fire & Rescue department

Gold River firefighters who walked out in solidarity with fire chief after she was fired last week, returned to resume their duty at the fire hall. Photo courtesy, Gold River Fire & Rescue department

Fired Gold River fire chief breaks silence, claims ‘wrongful termination’ by council

The fired chief implored firefighters who walked out in solidarity to ‘stay on and protect the community’

Most of the Gold River firefighters who walked out last week have returned to work at the fire department at the urging of their fired former fire chief, easing worries about fire protection for the community.

But the mystery of Lisa Illes’ sudden dismissal that caused them to hand in their pagers Friday remains and Illes is consulting a lawyer to contest what she considers a “wrongful termination” and get some answers.

“I don’t even know why I was terminated. So I will be reaching out to my attorney to get, specific infractions of why they terminated me,” Illes told the VI Free Daily after she decided to break her silence on the matter.

Gold River terminated Illes’ contract on Jan. 8 with mayor Brad Unger saying that it was based on “human resources matters.”

READ MORE: Council fires Gold River fire chief

Around 19 firefighters walked out with her.

On Monday evening, Illes met with her former co-workers at the fire hall and “implored them to stay back and protect the community,” she said.

Illes also said that after serving in Gold River’s fire department for the past 11 years – of which the last four years were as fire chief – she was “disgusted” when the village terminated her contract.

She said that she has the “support” of her crew and the community and intends to “fight this.”

In the meantime she continues serving as the fire chief for the neighbouring community, Tahsis.

The mass resignations by Gold River’s firefighters raised concerns among community members about fire safety and and insurance.

Gold River mayor Brad Unger, said that an interim chief has been appointed and that they have “full coverage” from the fire department. He also said that this has “no effect on insurance at all.”

Neither Unger nor the Gold River Volunteer Fire & Rescue department were able to confirm the exact number of firefighters on the team as of Tuesday.

Jeff Rockwell, volunteer firefighter who worked with Illes for the past four years before she was asked to step down as fire chief said that most of the firefighters from the department were “surprised” by the sudden dismissal of Illes.

“The crew stands united in their conviction that a grave injustice has been done to chief Illes and are still, individually and collectively, processing shock and sadness at her sudden termination, which was to their eyes carried out in an altogether undignified and underhanded manner,” said Rockwell.

Rockwell also said that council members were invited to attend the meeting with members of the fire department and Illes at the fire hall Monday evening but no one showed up.

Gold River

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Downed hydro line sparks brush fire in Yellow Point

North Oyster firefighters and B.C. Hydro on scene along Yellow Point Road

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

Heavy flows of water pooled on Davis Road after a lead to a fire hydrant burst on Thursday Jan. 21. (Jim Tredwell photo)
Fire hydrant connection burst at Davis Road and Battie Drive

Crews worked well into the night on Thursday Jan. 21 to staunch the flow of water

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read