Municipalities select new joint fire chief

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer
ntrivuncic@fortfrances.com

The townships of Alberton, Chapple, Emo and La Vallee welcome their new joint fire chief Tyrell Griffith, who officially assumes the role on July 5.

Griffith, who has lived in La Vallee since 2017, has been with the La Vallee fire team the last two years. But his experience goes back much farther.

In 2010, Griffith said he got involved with the Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls fire team as a volunteer.

“I Just heard of a need in the community and joined. Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls was really short on members then and so I just came out to see if I could help out and eventually just really enjoyed it,” Griffith said.

In 2016, Griffith became the fire chief in Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls.

“I’ve been with Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls since 2010 and I’m still with them actively but it’s a bittersweet moment that I have to step down from Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls to be able to take this on,” Griffith said.

Despite the bittersweet moment, Griffith said he is excited to take on this role in a more official way.

“With Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, it’s been a volunteer capacity and then it was a part-time paid position, but it was still taking second seat to all my other interests and hobbies and trying to make a living so it’s really exciting to be able to jump in with both feet and do the service full time and not just as a volunteer,” Griffith said.

Griffith said this position allows him to hang up his tool belt as a construction worker and focus completely on the fire department.

The deadline for applications for the joint fire chief position was at the end of April. Joint Fire Chief Services Committee member Harrold Boven, said announcing a new joint fire chief took a long time, not because it was necessarily difficult to choose a candidate but because of the long process of having each municipal council approve the recommendation.

La Vallee was the last to approve during their council meeting on June 16.

Boven said the decision to have a joint fire chief allows for consistency between the four municipalities by integrating them as one work unit.

“Their operating procedure becomes standard between the four departments which is good because they know each other. I have to give credit to the volunteers because they do spend a lot of time keeping their training up and that takes time away from their families. The work they do is appreciated,” Boven said.

Griffith said his role includes the training and development of new firefighters and keeping current with training standards for some of the more experienced firefighters as well.

Griffith said each municipality will have its own unique challenges and until he starts in early July, he has been tying up loose ends with work and learning as much as he can about each municipality.

“There’s lots of gaps that I’m becoming more and more aware of. I’m just trying to learn more of those things before I am 100 per cent full-time,” Griffith said.

As for goals he has for the role, Griffith said the main one right now is getting back on track.

“It’s been a hard goal across the board to keep up with training and responses, just because of the COVID issue that everybody’s facing,” Griffith said. “Getting back on track and getting everybody functioning as important pieces of the team.”