Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Fire Hall Bulletin Online

Elena De Luigi   

Headlines News Employment and hiring fire chiefs

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

Promotions, appointments and retirements

In Ontario, Derek Snider was promoted to fire chief in Centre Hastings, Ont., after more than 30 years with the department. He is taking over from Fire Chief Bob Branscombe, who is retiring. Snider’s first day will be Dec. 13.

Dave Pelayo is the new fire chief of Caledon Fire and Emergency Services in Ontario. He has served for more than 20 years, starting his career with Brampton Fire before moving to Caledon, first as a volunteer firefighter and then as a professional firefighter and inspector. He has held leadership roles in both departments, most recently as deputy chief of fire prevention and training in Caledon. He assumes his new role Dec. 18. Pelayo is taking over from outgoing Fire Chief Dave Forfar, who is retiring.

Forfar stepped in as the interim chief in January 2022. He previously held the role of fire chief in Caledon from 2013 to 2016 before retiring after 36 years of service. Prior to working in Caledon, he was the deputy fire chief for Barrie Fire and Emergency Services, where he was responsible for training, fire prevention and communication divisions, and with Markham Fire and Emergency Services as an acting platoon chief and district chief.

Sarnia appointed Jeff Weber as its new fire chief. He started his career as a firefighter in 1992. He previously served as a fire chief, deputy chief and community emergency management coordinator (CEMC) for the City of Cornwall. He was also a deputy chief in Barrie, Burlington, and Kitchener, as well as the CEMC in Barrie. Weber begins his new role on Feb. 1, 2024, taking over from Fire Chief Bryan Van Gaver who is expected to retire on March 31, 2024.

Van Gaver has spent more than 36 years with Sarnia Fire Rescue, beginning his career as a firefighter in 1987. He has served as the city’s fire chief since 2020.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be sitting in my place as chief,” Van Gaver said in a press release. He had initially planned to retire as a platoon chief before he took on the deputy chief role in 2013 on an interim basis that became permanent.

During his time with the service, Van Gaver increased physical protection for firefighters and enhanced mental health supports that were not in place when he started his career.

“It’s been a real pleasure serving a city of life-long friends,” he said.

Rob Martin has been appointed as Cambridge’s new fire chief. He worked in Kitchener as a firefighter for 22 years before taking on the role of deputy fire chief, followed by another three years as a deputy fire chief in Brampton.

Michael Seth has returned to Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario to be the acting fire chief. He has more than 30 years of experience and was the fire chief for Six Nations Fire between 2003 and 2015.

“I am excited to come back to the community to continue the progression of fire protection for our community and its visitors,” Seth said in a press release. “I am also happy to bring back some of the positive and negative things that I was lucky enough to learn while working in various municipal fire services.”

Seth has been the fire chief and director of fire and emergency services for the cities of Thorold and Brant County in Ontario, and most recently, Cape Breton Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia.

In B.C., Nathan Pocock is the new fire chief of the East Sooke Fire Department. He is the first paid chief of that department. Pocock started his career as as a volunteer firefighter in 2008 and rose through the ranks at several other fire halls including Vancouver and Dashwood Fire Rescue Services. He has been the fire chief in East Sooke since July.

In Sherbrooke, Que., Martin Primeau has been promoted to fire chief and director and coordinator of civil security for the Sherbrooke Fire Department. He most recently held the role of division chief for the department and is now taking over from Fire Chief Stéphane Simoneau who is retiring. Simoneau has spent 34 years in the fire service, starting as a firefighter and rising through the ranks to the role of fire chief which he held for a decade.

The City of Pitt Meadows, B.C., appointed Chris Miley as its new deputy fire chief of training and operations for its 17 career and 30 paid-on-call firefighters. He comes from Langley City Fire Rescue Service, where he has spent for more than 20 years in various capacities, including the role of assistant fire chief. He will officially start his new role in mid-December.

Also in B.C., The City of Terrace named Joel Brousson its new deputy fire chief of training and operations. Brousson has been acting deputy chief since Oct. 2.

“Since the age of eight, I knew I wanted to be a firefighter. Seeing two of my uncles working for the police force and ambulance service instilled early in me a desire to serve the public. Bringing stability to someone’s worst day and ensuring safety and best practice within emergency response motivates me daily. I am humbled to serve with the City of Terrace and look forward to working closely with the career and volunteers as deputy chief of training and operations,” he said.

Brousson started in the junior fire fighting program in 2010 in the interior of B.C. He has a degree in psychology with a specialization in crisis management, and paramedic training. His first position was with the Lacombe Fire Department in 2013, and in 2021, he was hired at the Kitsumkalum Band. There, he had the opportunity to build and maintain their emergency program, overseeing specialized emergency-related teams and training within their emergency response program.

In Ontario, Martin Hynna is Thunder Bay Fire Rescue’s new deputy fire chief. He has been with the department since 2000. Over the course of his career, he has served as a firefighter, training officer, division chief of training, and most recently as the acting deputy fire chief. Hynna brings training, specialized rescue operations, and incident management experience to the leadership team.

The City of Oshawa promoted Mike Barlow to deputy fire chief. He has more than 15 years of experience in fire suppression, fire prevention, and emergency response coordination and specialized training. Barlow began his career as a firefighter with the department in 2007, and most recently held the position of acting captain. Barlow will oversee the professional development and suppression divisions in his new role.

“Mike is a strong mentor and a proven leader within our ranks. We’re extremely happy to welcome Deputy Chief Barlow to our Fire Services management team,” said Fire Chief Stephen Barkwell in a press release. “His outside-of-the-box thinking and expertise in fire suppression and technical rescue will further enhance our corporate mission of being innovative and collaborative while promoting and protecting the health and well-being of our community.”

Early in his career, he was a trailblazer in the technical rescue program and was named the technical rescue department lead instructor for all rope rescue disciplines, including high angle, confined space and trench rescue. Prior to his appointment, Barlow was selected as the Durham A.M. Kiwanis Firefighter of the Year in 2018 for helping to bring and organize the Canadian FireFit Championships to Oshawa. He has also held leadership roles on several department committees and has been a member of the Peer Support Team since 2018.

Cameron Smith has been hired as a deputy fire chief in The Blue Mountains, Ont. He has more than 25 years of experience, starting his career in 1998 with the Ajax Fire Department as a part-time volunteer firefighter, and becoming full time in 2000. Smith has also worked in Kawartha Lakes and Newcastle.

Last Alarm

In Kenora, Ont., retired Fire Chief Warren Brinkman died on Oct. 10. He spent more than 15 years at the helm of the Kenora Fire and Emergency Services Department. Following his retirement in 2015, Brinkman became the fire chief for the Longbow Lake Volunteer Fire Brigade. He was also a long serving board member for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs. A funeral was held at the Longbow Lake Firehall on Nov. 18.

In Caledon, retired Fire Chief Norman Zimmerman died on Nov. 6 at the age of 99. He was a volunteer firefighter in the late 1940s, and then rose through the ranks and became the fire chief of the Palgrave Fire Department in 1955. He was also awarded the 35-year Ontario Firefighter Long Service Medal by the Ontario Fire Marshal.


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