FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Just a few weeks after it had found a new Fire Chief, the Peace River Regional District is once again looking for someone to lead the Charlie Lake Fire Department.
According to PRRD Deputy CAO Shawn Dahlen, Charlie Lake Fire Chief Dale Widsten has tendered his resignation after he was announced as the department’s new Chief on June 27th.
Dahlen said that Widsten has accepted a position as the new District Fire Chief for the County of Grande Prairie, where he will oversee four fire halls located in Bezanson, LaGlace, Teepee Creek, and Sexsmith.
Widsten’s last day with the Charlie Lake Fire Department is August 2nd, four days before he starts with the County of Grande Prairie.
Dahlen said that the PRRD is moving forward with reposting the position as soon as possible, with the possibility of bringing in an interim Fire Chief to lead the department until Widsten’s replacement is found.
Widsten’s departure marks the fifth time that the Charlie Lake Fire Department’s Chief has resigned since the PRRD took over control of the department in 2012.
Steve Munshaw, Stuart Larson, Terry Truchan, and Dan Ross all served as Fire Chief prior to Widsten stepping into the role.
When asked about the rather high rate of turnover in the Fire Chief position, Dahlen said that he “can’t disagree with that.”
“It’s a small fire department. So, unfortunately for the Peace River Regional District, I think it’s definitely being used as a stepping-stone for individuals to advance their careers,” said Dahlen about some of the reasons for the frequent vacancies in the Fire Chief position. “Lots of times, people come to the area with an opportunity to get some experience and some education and be able to advance their careers.”
When it comes to improving retention of employees with the department, Dahlen said the PRRD is looking at implementing policies and also examining facets of the department itself, including the facilities and operating environment.
Dahlen said that Widsten is still continuing in his duties until his departure, including helping the department to host a Volunteer information session at the Fire Department, which is taking place this evening at the Charlie Lake Fire Hall.