An investigation into the controversial transfer of fire equipment from the Town of Ponoka to Ponoka County has concluded but its release is uncertain.
The results of the report, commissioned by the town last May are unknown, however, the investigator with All Fire Investigations out of Blairmore met with town council Jan. 10 in an in-camera session for about one hour. No decisions came out of the meeting.
The third-party investigation looked into the botched transfer of equipment on April 25, one day before the official transfer was to take place between the Ponoka Fire Department (PFD) and the Ponoka County East District Fire Department.
While the results of the report are still under wraps, Ponoka News has since been made aware that one of the higher ranking volunteer PFD members was relieved of duty. Town administration would not confirm when asked. In a press release from the Town of Ponoka there is some mention of action being taken:
“After careful consideration and review of the investigator’s report, town administration has implemented internal disciplinary action based on the report’s findings,” states the release.
Being that the issue relates to operational and personnel concerns — something council has no say over — CAO Albert Flootman confirmed that, “…it is the responsibility of town administration and myself as the CAO to review the report and respond with any necessary action.”
It is believed that the PFD held a special meeting last week and that Flootman also met with the department. In the release the CAO explains that the report provides a thorough investigation into the April 25 events.
“The investigation found that the Ponoka Fire Department delivered trucks and equipment to the county fire department without giving proper notice to ensure county personnel were available to receive the trucks.”
Flootman apologized on behalf of the town for the actions of the individuals involved, and for the lack of the communication around the transfer of equipment.
Uncertain if report will be released
It is unknown if the report will be released to the public.
A request from Ponoka News to review its contents had the town responding with concerns over the personnel and third party information in the report.
It has since been sent to a lawyer for legal review to determine what, or if, anything can be released. Flootman stated the town must abide by its legal obligations, which is why it was sent for a legal opinion.
“The town is committed to open, transparent communication, so we will release the report if we are able,” said Flootman in the release.
His goal for now is to continue to work with Ponoka County on a financial settlement of outstanding equipment costs for fire equipment owed by the town.
At the time of the transfer, additional equipment on the vehicles were reported as completely stripped causing Ponoka County to fully restock the trucks. This was after the two municipalities came up with an agreed amount on costs to transfer the equipment in the first place.
“We are confident we will be able to work out an amicable resolution of this issue with the county,” said Flootman.
The release concludes that the PFD and the town continue to move forward. “We remain focused on our commitment to excellence as we continue providing quality fire protection to the community,” said Flootman.