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

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo’s NRGH

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All seniors in long-term care on the Island will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
UPDATE: Snowfall warning issued for Nanaimo area, up to 5 cm forecast

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
New positive COVID-19 case at Nanaimo care home, where outbreak was declared

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence employee is isolating, says Island Health

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
RDN Transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read