For the city of St. Albert’s new fire chief, fighting fires is a family affair.
Fire Chief Keven Lefebvre has been hired to command the local fire team and he is one of many family members who battles the blazes.
Lefebvre began his firefighting career at 17 years old, following in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps. His father spent his career in the Nisku Fire Department, while his uncle fought fires in Edmonton.
In the Lefebvre family, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and the chief’s two sons followed in their father’s footsteps. Both of his sons now work as firefighters for the Edmonton Fire Department and even some of his cousins work as firefighters in communities across Alberta.
Lefebvre, who had his first day on the job in St. Albert on Tuesday, said that he already loves the small city atmosphere.
‘It’s nice. It’s a pretty tight community and I love the camaraderie and the friendship already,” Lefebvre said.
While the chief spent most of his childhood in Leduc, he spent the majority of his fire career in Edmonton.
Lefebvre spent the last 30 years – just one month shy of 31 years – with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services. He started as a rookie in the department in March 1987 and climbed through the ranks. Lafebvre spent the last four years as deputy chief of training and logistics in Edmonton.
The 53-year-old said that he has stuck with fighting fires for his entire career because he loves the challenges on the job, the problem solving and the camaraderie shared by firefighters.
“I love it. It’s the adrenaline and giving back to the community. It makes the hair on the back of your head stand up,” Lefebvre said.
During the Fort McMurray wildfire in the spring of 2016, he spent eight days in Wood Buffalo helping to fight the fire and said he was happy to help assist so many people in their time of need. Lefebvre said it was also exciting to put all of his years of fire training to the test for such a large and challenging fire.
Although most of his career was spent around the Edmonton Metro Region, Lefebvre volunteered to go on a fire exchange in 2004 and fought fires in Tasmania for a year. He said that much of his career has been spotted with volunteering for different tasks in the fire department and he was always excited to learn about every aspect of the job.
One of his areas of interest was in fire codes and Lefebvre spent 13 years volunteering on the fire technical counsel for Alberta where he helped write fire codes for the province.
For the bulk of Lefebvre’s fire career he kept himself busy in his spare time by moonlighting as a master electrician. Both of his sons work as electricians while they fight fires full time and his wife worked as a journeyman electrician. He said that his electrical knowledge has helped him expand his knowledge of electrical fire codes.
“Electrical is generally one of the top one or two causes of fires so you get that safety aspect and the code awareness,” Lefebvre said.
Lefebvre is replacing former St. Albert Fire Chief Ray Richards, who spent nine years in the role before his retirement. Richards left the job in early May 2017 and for the roughly ten months the job of fire commander was vacant, the three deputy chiefs rotated out on a monthly basis.