The entire volunteer firefighter department of a B.C. Okanagan town has been handed a bitter punishment after admitting to stealing a number of beer kegs from a burning building earlier this spring.

Oliver Mayor Pat Hampson told each of the more than 30 members has agreed to a two-week suspension.

The penalties follow a May 23 fire that destroyed the Mesa hotel, from which firefighters removed at least six kegs of beer during the blaze. At least two kegs were consumed in the local fire hall after the fire was extinguished.

Initially only two members were suspended, but an RCMP investigation revealed more people knew about the theft.

"They came forward and said they wanted to take full responsibility and stand together as a group," Hampson said. "Once we knew that more people were in the loop we knew we were going to have to approach things differently."

Oliver city council originally recommended three-month suspensions for the members, but that decision has since been rescinded. The suspensions will be served in two-week rotations so the community can ensure there will be enough firefighters.

Hampson, himself a retired fire chief, said the incident has affected the morale of the tight-knit group.

"They recognize what happened was stupid," he said. "They were just really pumped from the fire. It's unfortunate that this has happened."

The members sent a cheque to recoup the cost of the beer but Hampson says to his knowledge it has not been cashed. The group was also forced to write a letter of apology to the hotel's owners.

City council has implemented a ban on firefighters drinking any liquor without a permit in town buildings in response to the controversy.

Hampson says the city hopes it can put the incident in the past and move forward.

"They're a really good crew," he said. "There will always be some people who will question what happened but they're really well respected in the community. I want us to move forward now."