Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Firefighter: Bullying forced me to resign

Jo-Anna Dalby, 22, says some other members of the Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade verbally abused her. Photo / Photo/Supplied
Jo-Anna Dalby, 22, says some other members of the Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade verbally abused her. Photo / Photo/Supplied

A young volunteer firefighter and calendar pin-up girl says a "culture of bullying" left her no choice but to resign from the service.

May pin-up girl for the 2013 Female Firefighter Calendar, Jo-Anna Dalby, 22, has resigned from her position at the Feilding Volunteer Fire Brigade after three-and-a-half years of service because of alleged verbal attacks, gossiping and an incident when someone tried to run her over.

"Ever since I joined the brigade I've been bullied, really, and I've just had enough," she said. "I got upset quite a few times with things that were said to me by people, and I am still really upset about it, to be honest."

She made two complaints about behaviour involving five of the brigade's 40 to 50 members, and had taken trespass orders against two.

"There are a whole lot of incidents that relate to the same people. Most of it is just verbal abuse and people abusing me to other people."

Events took a more serious turn when someone allegedly tried to run her over in their car, and when another person verbally abused her about laying the first complaint.

The allegations came as law firm DLA Fox Phillips probed the brigade's finance and governance.

It was recently ordered to repay $8730 in lottery grants to the Internal Affairs Minister's discretionary fund, after an application for funding failed to disclose other financial sources.

The head of the brigade, Peter Guard, is taking an "extended break" from service and Manawatu Fire area manager Mitchell Brown is temporarily filling the position.

Mr Brown confirmed that two complaints had been made by Ms Dalby, but denied bullying was involved, or that there was a culture of bullying at the station, it was reported.

He said the outcomes of complaints were confidential, but acknowledged there were some issues that were being worked through.

Ms Dalby said she had "no idea" why she was targeted by co-workers. Her resignation had not yet been accepted and she was on a cooling-off period to think about it.

"I do want to go back," she said, "but I can't go back with the bullies still there."

- NZ Herald

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