BOZEMAN, Mont. - NBC Montana continues to follow an an ongoing rift at the Bridger Canyon Volunteer Fire Department. Organizers of a trustee recall effort, The Bridger Canyon Fire District Safety Coalition, are weighing their options after a judge blocked their first petition effort.
The controversy began in November 2012, when several firefighters protested a plan to allow alcohol in the community room. Trustees agreed to strike down the plan, but the controversy did not end there.
In April, two firefighters unsuccessfully ran in the board of trustees election in hopes of ousting trustees. A month later, the chief and at least 18 firefighters quit.
Over the summer, a group of residents formed a coalition -- an attempt to recall all five trustees. On Monday, a judge ruled the petition language is not in compliance with Montana law.
We went to the Bridger Canyon Volunteer Fire Department to see where they go from here. The chair for the board of trustees, Mike Conn, sat down with us Tuesday afternoon.
"They can start again but those specific petitions cannot be used for a recall election," said Conn.
Judge Holly Brown put a stop to the current petition to recall all of the current board of trustee members including Conn.
"The department has moved forward, we are restaffed, we are training and constantly looking for new volunteers," said Conn.
Conn tells us two out of five trustees will be up for re-election this May -- Peggy Foster and Dave McKee.
"If you have a candidate, bring the candidate forward in May and let the voters decide," said Conn.
We reached out to members of the Bridger Canyon Fire District Safety Coalition. We were told by Lisa Daniels, a member of the coalition that they could not speak on the matter right now. Daniels says the coalition will be meeting in the next few days to see where they can go from here.
For Conn and the rest of the board, he says they are focusing on the here and now.
"It's my hope that all the residents on both sides of this issue heed Judge Brown's advice that we will work to heal this community and bring people back together and get this back to the good place it has always been," said Conn.