Former firefighter Gary Pettifor (not pictured) said he suffers from numerous chronic ailments that were caused from his time on the job. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)

Former Whitehorse firefighter claims city responsible for ‘destroying’ his health

‘The city has taken away my ability to live and enjoy life’

Former firefighter Gary Pettifor told Whitehorse city council Sept. 5 he was giving the city seven days to accept responsibility for chronic and debilitating health problems he says were caused by his tenure on the job, or he would go public with his accusations.

Pettifor claims he has documented “proof of wrongdoing” on the part of the city.

Coming before council as a delegate at the recent standing committee meeting, Pettifor said he had begun working as a volunteer firefighter in June 1976, and had been a full time firefighter with the city for 37 years. Chronic back pain due to injury which requires prescription medication, hearing loss, sleep apnea and symptoms of exposure to asbestos, including nodules in his lungs, are among the litany of health issues Pettifor said he has acquired over the course of his career.

Pettifor has also had an extremely aggressive form of prostate cancer, which resulted in the affected organ having to be surgically removed. He said that this “aggressive, rapidly growing version” affects two to three per cent of men who contract the disease, a disproportionate number of whom are firefighters.

At the beginning of the meeting, before Pettifor spoke, Mayor Dan Curtis made an announcement declaring September Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in the City of Whitehorse.

Pettifor said these claims have been verified as work-related by the WCB, although his claim regarding sleep apnea — which he said leaves him chronically exhausted — is still under review. The compensation from these claims is substantially less than than what he made working for the city, however, he said.

“The city has taken away my ability to make a living…. As a matter of fact they have taken away my ability to enjoy my life,” he said. “I ask that the city accept responsibility for destroying my health and shortening my life.”

Pettifor did not elaborate on how the city was responsible nor what documentation he had, but offered multiple times to meet with councillors to discuss the matter. When offered the option of asking him follow up questions, councillors had none.

Curtis said after the meeting that Pettifor’s allegations are a human resources issue.

“It’s definitely an administration issue when it comes to allegations of this kind. We’ve been advised not to comment on it,” said Curtis.

Contact Lori Garrison at lori.garrison@yukon-news.com

Just Posted

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World

Whitehorse meeting on proposed Wildlife Act regulation changes draws large crowd

A public meeting about proposed regulation changes to the Yukon’s Wildlife Act… Continue reading

Bear conflicts in the Yukon down significantly in 2019, Environment Yukon says

There were 163 human-bear conflicts reported in 2019, with 33 bears in total killed

Faro mine remediation company, mayor charged for allegedly intimidating workers

Parsons Inc. and Len Faber are facing five charges each under the Occupation Health and Safety Act

Promising Chinook salmon run failed to materialize in the Yukon, river panel hears

Tens of thousands of fish disappeared between Yukon River mouth and Canadian border

IBU World Cup season starts for Nadia Moser and Team Canada

“It is good to have the first races finished”

Gold Nugget Championship puts spotlight on Yukon figure skaters

The event also served as trials for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games

Glacier Bears compete at Christmas Cracker swim meet in Victoria

The Whitehorse club had nearly two dozen top-10 finishes

New program aims to return kids in care to their communities

All 14 Yukon First Nations signed on to the guiding principles document for Honouring Connections

Whitehorse council approves the purchase of a transit app

Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition raises other issues with bus service

City news, briefly

Some of the decisions made at the Whitehorse city council meeting Dec. 9

Destruction Bay man dies after snowmobile falls through ice on Kluane Lake

Yukon RCMP located the body of Walter Egg, 68, about 250 metres from the shoreline Dec. 10

Commentary: Yukon firearm owners need a voice in Ottawa

Are Yukoners being effectively represented in Ottawa?

Most Read