New chief on the job

Tak­ing over the po­si­tion an easy tran­si­tion for long­time Wool­wich fire­fighter Dale Martin

The Woolwich Observer - - FRONT PAGE - WHITNEY NEILSON

THE JOB TI­TLE IS new, but there’s a fa­mil­iar face at the helm of the Wool­wich Fire Depart­ment with long­time deputy Dale Martin step­ping into the chief’s role. He takes over from the re­tired Rick Ped­er­sen.

Hav­ing re­tired from the Kitch­ener Fire Depart­ment, Ped­er­sen spent 10 years with the depart­ment be­fore an­nounc­ing his de­par­ture ear­lier this year.

Martin says Ped­er­sen didn’t want a big to-do for his re­tire­ment. His fel­low fire­fight­ers took him out for din­ner and then he was on his way.

“He brought us up to date with a lot of equip­ment, dif­fer­ent pro­grams. His back­ground was fire preven­tion, so it en­hanced our fire preven­tion pro­gram in the town­ship,” Martin says of what Ped­er­sen con­trib­uted to the fire depart­ment for the past decade.

Martin had been the deputy fire chief for Wool­wich since 2008. The two worked closely to­gether, so the tran­si­tion isn’t a real chal­lenge.

“It’s a large re­spon­si­bil­ity, which I feel I’m up to that. It’s exciting too. I think we’re in pretty good shape as far as a fire depart­ment goes. I’m just ex­cited to keep grow­ing that and con­tinue on the path we’re head­ing,” Martin said.

There’s no set term for him to re­main as fire chief. He took over as fire chief on Apr. 3.

For­mer Wool­wich fire preven­tion of­fi­cer Den­nis Al­dous was named as the new deputy fire chief ear­lier this week.

Martin started with the Wool­wich Fire Depart­ment in 1978. He says he saw a large fire be­ing fought and the next day he went to the fire chief to see if they needed more vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers.

“It just kind of evolved into that. Af­ter I started, I knew I en­joyed it so I took more cour­ses and worked my way through, not that I as­pired to be a fire chief, I just en­joyed what I did,” Martin said.

He can’t fail to men­tion the five dis­trict chiefs and five dis­trict deputy chiefs at each of the sta­tions that make the fire depart­ment pos­si­ble. In his new role he hopes to con­tinue in the di­rec­tion the fire depart­ment’s head­ing with more train­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“We have to con­tinue to train and add to the train­ing that we have. Health and safety is a big thing for me. I have a health and safety back­ground, that’s im­por­tant for us. And we have fu­ture growth hap­pen­ing within the town­ship, so that could add to the de­mands of the fire depart­ment,” Martin said.

They’re also plan­ning to start build­ing a new fire sta­tion in Breslau within the next month. And they’ve got to keep on their 20-year truck re­place­ment sched­ule.

“We’re wait­ing on one truck for Con­estogo and also or­der­ing an­other new one for Breslau be­cause of the large growth hap­pen­ing in Breslau, along with the air­port, so we’re look­ing at an el­e­vated wa­ter stream for an aerial de­vice for Breslau. We’re work­ing on that for this year. The fire sta­tion’s sup­posed to be done by early 2018. We’d like to have our truck in there for that open­ing,” Martin said.

Along with their re­struc­tur­ing they’re look­ing to make some­one a full-time Com­mu­nity Emer­gency Man­age­ment Co­or­di­na­tor. Martin served as the CEMC in his pre­vi­ous role, but the depart­ment de­cided to make it a full-time po­si­tion. They’re legally re­quired to have a CEMC.

Martin hasn’t had too much on his plate as of yet. The last big fire in the town­ship was on Aspen Cres­cent in Jan­uary, and a small house fire in St. Ja­cobs in Fe­bru­ary.

“We haven’t had a whole lot of fires lately,” he said knock­ing on his wooden desk for good luck.

Fire chief Dale Martin

[WHITNEY NEILSON / THE OB­SERVER]

Dale Martin is the new chief of the Wool­wich Fire Depart­ment. He’s been a vol­un­teer fire­fighter since 1978 and takes over from Rick Ped­er­sen, who was the town­ship’s fire chief for a decade.

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