New fire chief val­ues com­mu­nity

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

Af­terserv­ing on the Stanstead Fire De­part­ment for al­most ten years, Stanstead na­tive Chris Good­sell was hired as the town’s new fire chief on Jan­uary 1st, be­com­ing the youngest fire chief in the Mem­phrem­a­gog MRC, at 29. “I grew up in this com­mu­nity and

I just wanted to help out,” said Mr. Good­sell when asked why he be­came a part-time fire­fighter, a de­mand­ing and some­times dan­ger­ous op­tion, al­most a decade ago.

“In nine and a half years I’ve seen four fire chiefs here – that’s a high turnover rate. The last three fire chiefs were from out of town; that makes it dif­fi­cult for them and dif­fi­cult for us. I think I have a big leg up be­cause I know the guys and I know the ter­ri­tory. That will help me,” com­mented Chris. “What will also help me in this job was my ex­pe­ri­ence as a coun­cilor for three years,” ex­plained Mr. Good­sell who was elected in 2009 but re­cently stepped down to avoid any con­flicts of in­ter­est and to fo­cus more on his new job. “Now I un­der­stand what goes on and hav­ing done that job gives me a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.”

It looks like the new fire chief’s first year on the job will be a busy one. “Soon we’ll be start­ing the First Re­spon­der Pro­gram. The ob­ject of that pro­gram is to help peo­ple when the am­bu­lance is far away.” The de­part­ment also has some fire preven­tion work to do which in­cludes paying a visit to about nine hun­dred homes, in Stanstead, to ver­ify equip­ment and make rec­om­men­da­tions re­gard­ing smoke alarms, car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors and fire ex­tin­guish­ers. “The Ma­gog Fire De­part­ment will check out the big plants and high­risk build­ings on the ter­ri­tory,” he added.

At a time when part­time fire­fight­ers are hav­ing to ded­i­cate more and more of their per­sonal time to fol­low cour­ses to meet the ever more strin­gent train­ing re­quire­ments, the Stanstead de­part­ment is for­tu­nate to have four new re­cruits, bring­ing their to­tal to twenty-eight. “We did a re­cruit­ment drive in Jan­uary. Two of the new re­cruits are women; we now have three women in the de­part­ment, one who has al­ready taken her train­ing. It’s im­por­tant to take on only a few re­cruits at a time, to train them prop­erly.” Mr. Good­sell seemed thank­ful that the de­part­ment is a good size now, un­der­stand­ing some of the chal­lenges for part-time fire­fight­ers. “Vol­un­teer and part-time fire­fight­ers are very ded­i­cated: they don’t get big pen­sions or ben­e­fits that city fire­fight­ers get. They’re here be­cause they want to help make their com­mu­nity safer.”

“What I really like about our de­part­ment is that we have twenty-eight peo­ple who all come from dif­fer­ent back­grounds, which is chal­leng­ing but fun. We have me­chan­ics, truck drivers, stone cut­ters… and we have all dif­fer­ent ages, from twenty to sixty. Ev­ery­one has dif­fer­ent strong points. We’re a close-knit fam­ily here and we all en­joy what we do.”

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Chris Good­sell, af­ter serv­ing on the fire de­part­ment for al­most ten years, be­came Stanstead’s new fire chief in Jan­uary.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.