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Nov 15, 2019

National Fire Service Under a New Fire Chief; How’s that Going?

Colin Gillett

Fire Chief Colin Gillett was recently appointed to the position after career fire-fighter and former chief Ted Smith retired. Gillett, like Smith’s predecessors, did not move up the ranks of the department and had been seen as an outsider. Gillett has his master’s degree in Natural Resource Management and so he was asked today of how that ties into running the National Fire Service. He says that his appointment wasn’t without pushback from employees, but they are working it out.


Colin Gillett, Fire Chief

“In everything, there is some grumblings. But I think in the past three months since I have been here, I’ve been able to show them that by looking at the effectiveness or the efficiencies that they have not been doing and providing them with the tools that they have actually needed to a level where they are supposed to be, that pushback has been a lot less. This position as fire chief is about management. Natural resource management, which is my background, I don’t actually manage natural resources; I manage the people who use the natural resources. Similarly in this position, I don’t actually have to know how to fight the fire, which I am learning, but there are people here who are fire-fighters who have been doing it for years. I now manage how they get their job done. I look for the efficiencies; I look for how to be more effective. And if you look at the history of all the fire chiefs that were here for the last four of them: Mister Baiza, Briggs, Thomas and Mister Smith. Of those four, only Mister Smith was an actual fire-fighter; the others came from B.D.F.  So the need for you to say that you have to be a fire-fighter to do the job, to be the chief, then no.”

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