Whistler’s unionized firefighters and the municipality have started negotiations for a first collective agreement. The B.C. Labour Relations Board granted the 13 full-time firefighters certification with the International Association of Fire Fighters in May this year. The Whistler department was, until then, the only non-unionized fire department in the province. IAFF union representative Randy Johnstone and municipal information officer Diana Waltmann confirmed bargaining got underway this month. Both the firefighters and the RMOW have, however, reached an agreement not to discuss the negotiations with the media. The firefighters had hoped to start negotiations in September and have a contract in place by the year 2000. The firefighters have prepared a contract proposal using six Lower Mainland municipal fire departments as reference — North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, West Vancouver, Delta, Port Coquitlam and New Westminster. It is those same six municipalities the RMOW has historically used to set remuneration and benefits for its own staff.