Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Mike Dine

Union wants to discuss dismissal with mayor

City firefighters were shocked and disappointed by last Friday’s announcement that then-fire chief Mike Dine was being dismissed.

By Chuck Tobin on June 20, 2019

City firefighters were shocked and disappointed by last Friday’s announcement that then-fire chief Mike Dine was being dismissed.

A letter to Mayor Dan Curtis was written in support of Dine a couple of weeks or so before his dismissal.

The letter describes the new chief as a breath of fresh air for a fire department that was badly in need of one. (See the full letter on p. 15.)

It describes how the relationship between firefighters and city management had not been the best for the past several years.

Dine helped turn it all around, says the letter.

“What has transpired over the last year is truly a credit to not only Chief Dine but also (deputy chief) Chris Green and (city) director Peter O’Blenes,” says the letter to Curtis.

“The state of relations within the department prior to Chief Dine’s arrival was truly a toxic one.

“With the hiring of Chief Dine, the city brought in a chief officer that has the combined credentials of experience, education and training that cannot be equalled by anyone else in the fire service in the Yukon.

“...When you come into either of the fire halls these days, members are truly happy to be coming to work with a work atmosphere, and morale that reflect this.”

Barry Blisner, the president of the local firefighters’ union, signed the letter on behalf of the city’s 31 full-time firefighters.

Blisner told the Star in an interview Wednesday firefighters wanted to write the letter to show support for Dine because they knew the end of his one-year probation was imminent.

Blisner said he wasn’t on shift last Friday afternoon when the announcement of Dine’s dismissal was made – but word spread quickly, he said.

“We were shocked by it,” Blisner said. “I guess you can say we were confused by the decision and disappointed.”

Blisner said the firefighters have not been given any explanation about Dine’s dismissal.

City hall is not commenting on the former chief’s departure.

There’s been no indication whether the decision to dismiss Dine was made by mayor and council or senior management.

There’s been no word whether it was with cause, or without cause, nor whether there is a severance package involved.

Dine took on the job in June 2018 to fill the vacancy after the previous chief resigned after three years as chief and 23 years with the department.

Dine arrived in Whitehorse having spent 20 years with the Penner Island, B.C., fire rescue department, the last 12 years as deputy chief.

The Star has been unable to contact Dine.

“Really, there was no indication from management, the city manager (Linda Rapp) or anybody else that this was going to happen,” said Blisner, the president of Whitehorse Firefighters Association.

“We were just told he was no longer with the department and the deputy fire chief would be acting chief for the foreseeable future.”

On Tuesday, Curtis addressed this week’s conference of western firefighting unions being hosted by Whitehorse, Blisner pointed out.

Afterward, he asked the mayor if he would meet with the representatives of the local union to discuss Dine’s dismissal, he explained.

Blisner said Curtis said he would look into things and would let Blisner if he would sit down with them.

There was no word on that as of Wednesday.

The union president said the relationship between the fire department and city management can often be strained.

The letter of support for Dine was written to ensure the mayor knew the full-time firefighters were pleased to have Dine as chief, and appreciative of the spirit of collaboration he brought to the position, Blisner said.

“Everything, we felt, was going great,” he said. “That is why the end was confusing.”

In the letter of support from the firefighters, Dine is described as a man of integrity and substance who turned around a difficult work environment.

“As I stated earlier, negative rhetoric sometimes overshadows what many of us hear but we wanted to pass along the hiring of Chief Dine a year ago did what we were all hoping for,” says the letter signed by Blisner.

“We have a fire chief who respects and appreciates his employees and, in turn, he is well-respected and has a group of firefighters who believe in him and are happy to follow his leadership.”

Comments (13)

Up 2 Down 0

Seth Wright on Jun 27, 2019 at 11:41 pm

@ Oya - Bullseye! You are absolutely correct. Nepotistic-cronyism is rampant in this town within the municipal and territorial governments. You have blunted politicians passing off their subjective whimsies as due process and brute force authority for due process. Things are not good. But shut up if you disagree. We do what we like and like what we do ...

Up 17 Down 1

Michael Storm on Jun 25, 2019 at 7:17 pm

In this situation we should know why the fire chief was let go. He may have been open about our city not being prepared for a wildfire. He may have been open to tabling this at the meeting which took place. Remember he was fired and the mayor spoke in his place at the meeting.

We are not prepared for the big one according to the city study and being prepared may cost about 27 million dollars. This is highly political thus we should know if speaking the truth got this man fired.

Up 35 Down 1

CJ on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:40 am

I can't see this coming down to this city manager -- when Fendrick was there, maybe, it was more his style. It was strange that the mayor was so front and center with public messages about wildfire, I'm not looking to him for that kind of thing, thanks. Sometimes it does come down to a conflict between the mayor and staff members. Mr. Dines did well for 20 years in his previous position, so common sense says at least some of this is peculiar to the City of Whitehorse.

Kind of typical Yukon episode, though, no? The summer started with messages of impending catastrophe with wildfire, so preparations should definitely include firing an apparently competent fire chief. Makes sense to somebody.

Up 36 Down 2

PSG on Jun 23, 2019 at 7:59 am

The city can afford severance packages approaching $1,000,000.00 (one million dollars) but can't afford a $10,000.00 (ten thousand dollars) for a pump and hose to put out dump fires. Instead we would spend $2,000,000.00 (two million dollars) on water trucks for those fires. What is wrong with this picture?
Where does the money for these come from? Is it the horn of plenty much abused "Emergency Surplus Fund" which has been used for everything but?

Up 35 Down 3

James bath on Jun 22, 2019 at 3:44 pm

Eddie rue. You clearly have no idea what you are talking about. Lots of people know the reason she fired dine. But they are not allowed to say. And the reason is b.s.

Up 27 Down 1

Wilf on Jun 22, 2019 at 3:21 pm

Dan the mayor was shown to be wrong when he stated there is no fire danger to Whitehorse and all things are in place to protect residents. But when the fire risk report came showing high risk to people COW you know someone was going to get fired.

Up 13 Down 54

Edie rue on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:22 pm

Oya, that’s ridiculous to think that he was let go because he knows more and/or respected more than higher level management. Linda is a highly respected person and would have nothing to do with firing a good chief. There’s something the public is not aware of and probably will never be, which might be in Dines favour.

Up 16 Down 45

BnR on Jun 21, 2019 at 2:21 pm

Curious why everyone seems to think Dines shouldn't have been let go?
Are you privy to information no one else is?
Just because the firefighters union supports him doesn't mean anything, all it means is the fire-fighters liked him, which doesn't mean he was a good fit for the city. The firefighters union is only answerable to its membership, Mayor Curtis is answerable to US, the taxpayers. So while firefighters have protected jobs, Curtis doesn't. We voted him back in, we can vote him out, and he knows that.
I'm siding with the city until I know more.

Up 63 Down 3

AuditorGeneralize on Jun 21, 2019 at 10:56 am

What exactly is going on in City Hall.....?
How is possible that respected man in respected profession gets the axe?

This firing reeks of some over zealous decision maker who would not know one end of a hose from the other.
Well done CoW, you are emblematic of small town hacks who could never get a job like this anywhere else.

Up 54 Down 2

Yukoner71 on Jun 21, 2019 at 8:15 am

I’m not part of the firefighting circle at all but I would imagine city firefighters must be wondering what the H—- is going on over the last couple years. Or more likely they probably have a good idea exactly what is going on... Generally I’ve supported Dan Curtis but something at City Hall stinks more and more regarding these numerous dismissals without cause over the last several years.

I hope things work out for you Mr. Dines.

Up 29 Down 7

Michael Storm on Jun 20, 2019 at 7:15 pm

Mike was let go because he did not understand the vision of the city.

It's not hard to understand how he became on the wrong side of the fence.

Up 51 Down 0

Equality? on Jun 20, 2019 at 6:56 pm

A person with this level of competence as attested to by those who know gets the ax and the Transit dept with it's many blunders was exempt from atonement.

Up 111 Down 7

Oya on Jun 20, 2019 at 4:26 pm

The City is just like YG. As soon as an employee appears to know more and becomes better respected than the existing management, it is time for that employee to GO! We can't be having people who know what they're doing in positions like this especially when that person is better at their job than their boss. No, that is not the Yukon way!!!

Up here, it's all about who you know....that gets you the good jobs.

I'm sorry this happened to you, Mr Dines. All the good people with integrity get run out. I guess you, unfortunately, can add your name to that very long list. I am sad for all of Whitehorse that you are no longer our Fire Chief.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.