Retirement won't extinguish fire chief's desire to stay involved in community
The Daily Press
 
Tom Laughren may be stepping out the limelight but he intends to “remain a vibrant member of our community” by staying involved.
 
Old habits die hard for the former city councillor, former city mayor and soon-to-be former fire chief.
 

In August, Laughren announced his plans to retire. His last day on the job is Oct. 31.

“I’ve had people who have said to me, ‘How many times are you going to retire?’ Well, this is the first time I will actually try retiring – but I still want to remain involved,” said Laughren.

“You’ll likely see me do some volunteering; you’ll see me do some other things. It may not be in the same public light as other roles I’ve had in the past but my goal is to remain a vibrant member of our community.”

Laughren started his career at Timmins City Hall in 1977 as a full-time employee with public works.

“I worked there until 1980. And then worked at Gorf Contracting from 1980 until 2006 when I became the mayor. I did the mayor’s job for eight years, and then went to Lakeshore Gold for 4½. And then back here (as fire chief). It will have been 3½ years by the time I’m done.

“So I’ve had a pretty long career and I think it’s time to start slowing it down.”

This week, city council approved the promotion of the current deputy fire chief, Berny Stansa, who officially steps into the role of chief, replacing Laughren, on Nov. 1.

The city receives 14 applications to fill the chief’s position.

Stansa, a 25-year veteran with the Timmins Fire Department, was deemed to be the top choice.

Stansa actually began his firefighting career as a volunteer in 1991, and was then hired as a full-time Timmins firefighter in 1997. Since then, he has held a number of key positions within the department including fire prevention officer, chief training officer, chief fire prevention officer and most recently, deputy fire chief.

“The city went out and did a process and went through the process and hired with plans over the next couple of weeks of bringing them up for shadowing and mentorship and getting used to the job,” explained Laughren.

“If you can hire from in-house, it’s always, I think, better for the service; it’s better for the people who work within the service.

“We did have applicants from outside the service as well and when you do that, you have to look at what you have in-house, the qualifications and what those people bring to the table. That’s all part of your decision-making.”

Laughren, who was hired as Timmins fire chief in April 2019, had been in the volunteer service since July 1979.

He said there is an obvious advantage for candidates who are already familiar with the community and the make-up of the department.

“Timmins is a little bit unique as well because we have 28 people in suppression — so four crews of seven that are paid and go to the Timmins station,” said Laughren. “If you add prevention, training and administration, then we’re a group of 35. But you also have anywhere between 110 and 120 volunteers at six different stations. So to understand how it works, the logistics, the matrix, the training, how fire prevention works within your community is, I think, really important.”

As for Laughren, he said he currently sits on a number of boards and will likely be looking at “other opportunities” to stay involved.

“We (he and his wife Maureen) don’t have a lot of plans right now, other than to say that we’re going to travel some, we’re going to spend more time with our grandchildren and Timmins is our home.”

 

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