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

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

Saanich-based St. Luke’s Players community theatre company has been making the most of their opportunities to keep busy during the pandemic, including staging a Christmastime panto of Alice in Wonderland on Zoom. (Courtesy St. Luke’s Players)
Saanich’s St. Luke’s Players: Bringing the stage to the people

Community theatre company holding online auditions Jan. 23-24 for March production

Frank Bourree was awarded the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s first Governors’ Award of Distinction for his leadership in the business community. (Courtesy of Frank Bourree)
Frank Bourree receives award of distinction from Victoria chamber

Award recognizes positive role model in business community

The Habitat for Humanity Meaning of Home contest is open to students in Grades 5 to 6. (Screenshot/Habitat for Humanity video)
Habitat for Humanity launches national writing contest

Entries accepted from students in Grades 4 to 6 until Feb. 19

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

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

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read