Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fire Hall Bulletin Online

Elena De Luigi   

Headlines News Employment and hiring deputy fire chiefs fire chiefs last alarms promotions retirements

Here is a digital round-up of the latest fire chief promotions, appointments, retirements, and last alarms across Canada.

Promotions, appointments and retirements

Fire Chief Brett Ogino will retire on March 20 after serving for nearly 30 years. He started his career with the Sicamous Fire Department in British Columbia in 1995 and spent several years moving up the ranks to fire chief. He has spent the last 20 years at the helm of the department.

Also in B.C., the City of Port Coquitlam promoted Blake Clarkson to fire chief. He brings 18 years of fire service experience to the role, starting his career as a firefighter and gradually progressing into senior management positions within the city’s fire department. He was promoted to acting deputy fire chief of administration and support in 2021, a role that became permanent in 2023.

Chief Clarkson is expected to assume his new role in March, when he will officially take over from Fire Chief Robert Kipps who is retiring from the fire service after 35 years.

Dwight Seymour is Kelowna’s new fire chief. He joined the department in 2021 as assistant chief of training and prevention. In 2022, he was promoted to deputy chief of operations. Before coming to Kelowna, Seymour earned extensive experience in Vernon and Okotoks, Alta. serving as a deputy chief. He is expected to assume his new role on Feb. 19.

Fire Chief Brendan Grant is retiring from the Pass Lake Volunteer Fire Department in B.C. He dedicated nearly 20 years to the department, spending nine of those years at the helm.

Over on the east coast, Saint John, N.B., Fire Chief Kevin Clifford is retiring after 44 years of service. He is a third-generation firefighter whose grandfather was a fire chief and whose father spent his fire fighting career on Saint John’s east side. He was hired as a firefighter at the age of 19 and he rose through the ranks to become the city’s chief in 2012, after spending some time as acting chief.

Clifford was at the helm of the Saint John Fire Department for several major incidents, including the massive fire at the American Iron & Metal scrapyard on the city’s west side in September, as well as the city’s response to spring flooding in 2018 and 2019, the explosion in 2018 at the Irving Oil refinery, a three-building fire on Prince Edward Street in 2015 that displaced 100 people and a rail car propane leak on Highway 1 in 2013.

Rob Nichol has taken over from Chief Clifford and assumed his new role as fire chief. Nichol was hired in 1997 as a firefighter and was promoted to division chief of training and special operations in 2017. Two years later he was appointed to deputy chief.

Leslie Kenny is the new interim fire chief for the Holyrood Fire Department in Newfoundland and Labrador. She started her career as a firefighter in 1999 and began volunteering for Holyrood in 2018. She rose through the ranks to the role of lieutenant and was promoted to acting fire chief in 2023.

In Ontario, Fire Chief Fred Stephenson has retired after nearly 40 years of service with Loyalist Township Emergency Services. He began as a volunteer firefighter in 1986 and accepted a full-time role in 1995. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to deputy chief in 2012. He took over as acting chief in in 2015 and became the full fire chief in 2016. Stephenson was also the town’s deputy chief administrative officer and acting CAO.

Fire Chief Kent Readman is replacing Stephenson. He is joining Loyalist Township after serving as the fire chief for the Municipalities of Huron East and North Huron. With more than 20 years of emergency services experience, Readman has accrued a wealth of knowledge, experience, and education. He has obtained extensive qualifications in areas including fire prevention, public information, and incident safety from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). He is also an adjunct instructor and evaluator for NFPA courses offered at training centres in Ontario and serves on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. Readman is expected to begin his new on Feb. 26.

Mike Greenham is joining Readman on the department’s leadership team as deputy fire chief. He has been a member of the Loyalist Township Emergency Services team for more than 19 years, including most recently as the assistant deputy fire chief of public education and special events. Greenham was instrumental in the development of emergency services community relations initiatives including school outreach programs. In addition to his emergency service experience, he brings a wealth of knowledge from his current management role and more than 26 years of work with the Correctional Service of Canada. He is expected to assume his new role on Feb. 12.

Jeff Sargent is the Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley’s new fire chief. He joined the department in Ontario in 1996 and was promoted to captain a decade later in 2006. He was recently promoted to acting deputy fire chief before landing the role of fire chief.

Gene Richardson is the new fire chief in the Township of Rideau Lakes, Ont. The 30-year veteran comes from the Township of Lanark Highlands, where he served as fire chief for five years. Previously, he volunteered with Drummond North Elmsley Tay Valley Fire Department for 25 years. Over the years, he has held positions of firefighter, apparatus operator, captain and fire chief. Richardson has also served as a municipal councillor in Tay Valley Township from 2018 to 2022.

Richardson’s knowledge of fire suppression techniques and apparatus, fire sciences, fire safety principles, theories, techniques, methods, and practices have been acquired firsthand while attending fire calls and through his education at the Ontario Fire College. Matched with a series of qualifications from the NFPA, this knowledge prepared him to deliver training programs to groups across Ontario. Richardson is expected to assume his new role on Feb. 12.

The Township of Lanark Highlands appointed Stephen Rothwell as its new fire chief. He brings more than 10 years of experience to the role, having spent time as a junior firefighter and volunteer firefighter, then moving up the ranks to station captain and then deputy fire chief of training and prevention. He will assume his new role on Feb. 16.

Interim Fire Chief Mark McFalls, who was appointed on Jan. 2 to lead the department temporarily until a full-time replacement was chosen in Rideau Lakes, will return to his former role of deputy fire chief.

The City of Oshawa appointed Ken Whetham as its newest deputy fire chief of professional development, emergency management, and administrative support. He has more than 25 years of leadership and emergency services experience, starting his career as a police officer and then moving to Oshawa Fire Services in 2009. He was promoted to assistant deputy chief in 2020.

Throughout his tenure, Deputy Whetham made significant contributions to the department, serving as a technical rescue team member and as a shift-training instructor for various rescue operations and medical training. After a promotion to training officer in 2018, he developed, implemented and delivered training programs to suppression staff, as well as created video training, a recruit fitness program and an elevator rescue program.

Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Edwards has retired after serving on the St. Marys Fire Department for 23 years. He joined the department as a firefighter in 2001 and rose through the ranks. He was promoted to captain in 2014 and became deputy chief in 2022. Edwards is also a recipient of the 20-year Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal.

Phil West has been promoted to deputy chief to replace Edwards. West joined the department as a firefighter in 1995 and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant in 2019 and a captain in 2022. He is the recipient of the 20-year Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal and the 25-year Ontario Fire Services Long Service Medal.

In Manitoba, Altona Rhineland Emergency Services Deputy Chief Barry Friesen is retiring after more than 30 years. He started his career as a firefighter in 1991 and climbed the ranks to lieutenant and captain, spending about half his career as deputy chief. Fire service veteran Mark Krahn is expected to replace Friesen as deputy chief. He has served for more than 25 years and is currently the assistant chief.

Last Alarm

Ret. Fire Chief Warren Corp has died at the age of 92 on Jan. 16 at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont. He was the city’s first full-time firefighter, beginning his career in 1954. He rose through the ranks and became the fire chief in 1972, a position he held for several years. Corp was also responsible for unionizing Burlington firefighters and creating the Local 1552.

In Northern Ontario, Ret. Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Ashton died on Jan. 17. He served with the Espanola Fire Department for 50 years as a volunteer, retiring in 2022. Ashton was known as a mentor and teacher in the fire service, but he was also a guard for the Ontario Provincial Police, a private investigator, a process server and a grocery store manager. He loved the outdoors, specifically hunting and fishing, and he served a memorable Caesar salad during monthly dinners at the fire hall.


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