Wellesley is without a fire chief as Andrew Lillico has moved on to the Brantford Fire Department after six and a half years with the township.
Lillico started as deputy fire chief in Brantford this week, but reflected on his time in Wellesley and the improvements he was able to accomplish in their fire department.
“I think one of the very important things that I worked on when I went to Wellesley Township there was concern by residents and by council members that our response to medicals could be improved,” Lillico said on the line from his new post in Brantford.
Through a joint dispatching committee they were able to implement a program through the Ministry of Health that helped improved response times. When a criteria was met as the data was being entered into a computer program if it matched up to a call criteria, it automatically dispatched fire departments.
“It improved response times probably by anywhere from 30 seconds or more, but it was a consistent notification of fire departments. As a township fire department we also went through the call criteria and looked at what was important for the township of Wellesley to respond to and what would make a difference in the township because EMS is at least seven minutes behind fire, if not more in some cases. There were definitely some significant saves that my staff were involved in and made a big difference,” Lillico said.
He notes working for the Wellesley Fire Department also lent itself to some unique experiences, as the only fire department in Waterloo Region involved in childbirths. He’s seen firefighters help deliver babies without EMS on scene because the township is so far removed from EMS service.
“Firefighters often see tragic situations and death and stuff like that, but to be involved in bringing a new life into the world, it’s great for the firefighters and it’s good for morale and good for the community. It worked out really well,” Lillico said.During his time in Wellesley he implemented the new National Fire Protection Association standards from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office. He also helped a large number of the firefighters get certified in various courses.
The Wellesley department held one of the first live firefighter training days in Ontario with the Dräger LiFTT program. They did so well at it they received an advanced Dräger program the following year where they trained 80 people on site from across the region.
He also helped with the rebuild and modernization of the Linwood fire station and worked with the Kitchener fire dispatch to speed up the dispatching protocol for multi-station responses in the township.
“I certainly can say that over the course of six and a half years there were some exciting projects and some things that moved the department forward,” Lillico noted.
He commends Wellesley Township for their rural water supply. They increased their tanker certification from 230 gallons per minute to well over 450 gallons per minute while Lillico was there. This is the industrial/commercial rating that gave industrial and commercial properties a significant insurance break across the township. You have to flow two hours in a 12-kilometer loop, making it quite difficult to achieve that certification. Lillico notes this was a joint effort with the township approving the appropriate equipment to enable them to accomplish that.
And most recently, he was significantly involved with developing Wellesley’s fire master plan.
“There are a number of staffing positions identified within the fire master plan and I know for smaller municipalities it’s often a challenge to fund those staffing positions, but I hope council is supportive with the needs and circumstances that are identified by the consultant to help progressively move the fire department forward for the benefit of the community as well. Often things come at a cost, but it also provides a better level of safety for the community. They have to balance that cost with the increased safety as well.”
Council requested more time to read the document after seeing the final draft earlier this month.
Despite all the projects he’s seen come to fruition in Wellesley, he’s excited for this new opportunity in Brantford, which boasts a larger department with all career firefighters.
“Brantford is undergoing an expansion. We’re doing some significant boundary changes. I’m going to be working on some special projects down here to implement that process. I felt that I had some great opportunities in my career and it was time to move on in this point in time.”
But he won’t be forgetting the folks in Wellesley just yet.
“In general I had a really great staff and I’ll miss working with my firefighters, responding to calls with the firefighters. I had a great team that I will miss,” Lillico said.