SUNDRE, ALTA. -- Tensions continue to run high in a southern Alberta community as residents and firefighters remain in an uproar following the dismissal of the town’s longstanding fire chief earlier this week.

Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday evening outside the Sundre fire hall in support of Marty Butts who was relieved of his duties after serving 10 years as fire chief and 34 years as a volunteer member. 

Another 750 people watched the event on Facebook Live as the town’s council, administration and firefighters met to discuss the ongoing controversy. 

Butts, who spoke at the event on a megaphone, says town officials fired him because of alleged ongoing bullying incidents that took place at the fire hall, a claim he continues to refute. 

According to Butts, the fire department reponds to 300 calls each year and makes a significant contribution.

"We've had some crazy calls lately where we have made a difference in people's lives," said Butts during the event. "If that was to happen right now people would die."

Nicky Butts, Marty's wife, claims town administration with the approval of the mayor and council has "completely ripped the passion out of the department" and "ripped the heart out of this community."

"I'm angry but most of all I'm heartbroken," said Nicky Butts. "For the Town of Sundre, this is just a political world for them. Perhaps it's a stepping stone for some, a paycheque for the town administration, and I get that, but our Sundre Fire Department is none of that."

Sundre town council has yet to release details regarding Butts’ dismissal. The town’s administrative officer, Linda Nelson, was heckled at Wednesday’s meeting and needed to be escorted away from the crowd. 

Mayor Terry Leslie was also drowned out by a crowd of protesters as he attempted to update his residents on the developing situation, claiming there is only so much information he could make available to the public. 

Residents remain concerned over the functionality of  the fire hall and the quality of fire services in their community as some volunteer members of the fire department say they will walk off the job in solidarity with Butts if he’s not reinstated as chief. 

CTV News spoke with several firefighters earlier this week who said they were locked out of the fire hall on Monday when preparing to respond to a crash, noting that the building’s locks had been changed. 

Mayor Leslie confirmed the locks had been changed, stating it was a common practice following the dismissal of any town employee.

In a statement, Leslie also refuted any claims that members of Sundre’s fire department would be locked out of their own fire hall. 

"Malicious rumours circulated in the community alleging the Sundre Fire Department had been locked out, leaving the town without adequate fire protection. Those rumours are false."

The town adds that locks were changed and new entry codes were given to the deputy chief. 


On Thursday, Frank Crouch confirmed to CTV News that he had resigned from his role as fire captain. The 11-year veteran told CTV that he is not alone in his decision and roughly half of Sundre's 32 firefighters are leaving as a result of Butts' dismissal and half of those still working have not decided if they'll continue to serve. 

There is currently no timeline for when a new chief would be designated or exactly who could take on the new position.

A GoFundMe campaign. Support for Marty Butts, Sundre fire chief, is attempting to raise $25,000 to assist Butt with legal fees. As of Thursday morning more than $3,000 had been pledged.

Sundre is located approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Calgary city limits.