City still looking for a fire chief

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Position has been vacant since May

The city of St. Albert will start the new year without a fire chief.

After around eight months of looking, the city still hasn’t hired a replacement for the role.

Former chief Ray Richards left big shoes to fill when he retired in May. During his outgoing interview he said he anticipated the job to be filled by August.

The city has yet to hire anyone for the job and Michelle Bonnici, general manager of corporate services for the city of St. Albert said that they just haven’t found someone who is the right fit.

“It is taking a little longer than anticipated to fill it but we feel very strongly that it has to be the right fit for the role. It’s a critical role,” Bonnici said.

Bonnici said that they are currently in the recruitment process and have had many people apply for the job. The city posted the position both externally and internally and is waiting to hire someone until they find a candidate who can best serve the city.

Bonnici said that they are looking for someone who not only has the basic qualifications for the role but also someone with leadership skills and who can build relationships within the department and in the community. The chief oversees more than 100 full-time staff in an integrated Fire and EMS model and supervises three deputy chiefs.

In the interim the three deputy fire chiefs Darrel Bliss, Percy Janke and Bernd Gretzinger are taking on the role on a monthly basis.

“Rather than have one person do it all the time they will rotate every month. They work very well as a team so far,” Bonnici said.

Bonnici said that the rotating system has been working well.

“We are looking to fill this as soon as possible so they are not burdened by that and their other job,” Bonnici said.

Richards was the fire chief in the city for nine years before he retied.

Janke will be the acting chief for the month of January.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.