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Township of Manitouwadge 'saddened' by firefighters' leave of absence

Volunteer firefighters are off the job for the second day in a row.

MANITOUWADGE, Ont. — The township of Manitouwadge says it is reviewing the concerns of its volunteer firefighters.

For the second day in a row, all 21 firefighters remained unavailable Tuesday after announcing they were taking a leave of absence.

A spokesperson for the firefighters has said there are unresolved safety issues related to on-call staffing and communications.

In a brief statement posted Tuesday morning, the township said it is "incredibly saddened" that valued members of the fire department have chosen to take an unplanned leave.

It said it is committed to working collaboratively with them to find "respectful solutions."

But Deputy Fire Chief Denis Narbonne said the firefighters have yet to hear directly from Mayor John MacEachern to discuss their concerns.

"I also find it very disturbing that the mayor and council are not finding this serious enough at this point," Narbonne said.

In its statement, the township said ensuring community safety and protection against the sudden loss of service has taken precedence.

"We are grateful to our neighbours throughout the region who are coming forward to ensure that Manitouwadge residents and businesses are temporarily protected" during the absence of the township's firefighters, it said.

Acting Mayor Jim Moffat is expected to release more information about the situation late Tuesday afternoon.

Manitouwadge's fire service is currently overseen by the fire chief from Marathon, while the township seeks a replacement for retired chief Owen Cranney.

The township expressed gratitude to the Town of Marathon and Acting Chief Earl Grigg for their ongoing support during the transition period.


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