Fire service appoints new deputy fire chief, still recruiting on-call staff
Meltwater
 
2022 may bring many new faces to Kenora's fire service; applications for paid on-call firefighters are open until 3:00 p.m. on Fri. May 13 as the newly-appointed deputy fire chief settles into his new position.

On Apr. 19, David Pratt was appointed as Kenora's newest deputy fire chief -a position that had been vacant for over 16 years. For those of us unfamiliar with this role, Pratt explained that as deputy fire chief he will supervise public education initiatives, fire inspection preventions, and both internal and external staff training. "I'm assisting in a little bit of everything," he told The Miner. One of Pratt's first priorities in this new position is to increase the paid on-call staff within the dire department. "Traditionally, this was known as a 'volunteer'position, but everybody that works here, for every hour they work - whether that be for training or fire call response - they get paid an hourly wage," he explained. "It's truly not a volunteer position anymore. It is a part-time job, and with that comes expectations surrounding training, commitment, and response to fire calls. That's one of the first priorities."

Pratt explained that the number of on-call staff hired will depend on interest, and that he would love to see upwards of 10 to 12 new hires should the right people apply. There is no educational prerequisite to do the work, and Pratt encouraged anyone who is interested to submit their resume.

In addition to these hiring efforts, Pratt is also working towards ensuring that all full-time staff have upto-date training and certifications, as per the Ontario Fire Prevention and Protection Act: "Like many municipal services, the fire service is becoming more and more litigious; so we need to make sure we are in compliance," he explained.

Following an intense winter, many people in Kenora are hoping for sunnier days ahead; however, Pratt explained that the entire fire department is prepping for a summer similar to 2021, filled with forest fires and emergency evacuations. "I've had some meetings with various ministries, and in those meetings they're saying we may have another hot and dry summer similar to last year. We expect, to be honest, another heavy workload in terms of grass-fed fires and wildland forest fires again," he cautioned. With dramatic flooding across Ontario, Kenora could see evacuees from Indigenous communities sooner than later.

However, Pratt emphasized that this is just a prediction and that regardless of the weather, the fire service will be there to support: "There certainly seems to be lots of enthusiasm in terms of projects and things that are happening here in the next few years. I'd like to think that the fire service is an important part of that. Ultimately, we will continue to provide an excellent level of service to not only our residents who are here 365 days a year but also to our visitors that come to the community," he concluded.

If you are interested in a paid on-call firefighter position, you can apply at
kenora.ca/en/living-here/fire-services.