Just weeks into the job as Wellesley Township’s new fire chief, Paul Redman has an ambitious plan to revamp the department.
Part of that comes with the territory as the township develops a new fire master plan. As just part of a long to-do list, Redman is getting ready to hire some new firefighters, overhaul the recruiting system, give current members more training and replace some equipment.
“There is a lot to chip away at here. Recruiting doesn’t mean just hiring people. We are revamping the entire process. It hasn’t been addressed for a long time. People want to see more opportunities to continue training,” he said. “We are going to be looking at replacing trucks, some apparatus. There is a lot coming due in the five-year picture. We need to figure out where we are going with all of that. It is a really busy time.”
First up, however, Redman will be getting the community educated.
“We are going to go forward with the public education thing first, trying to hit some of the more vulnerable population that needs to have fire prevention that they don’t have access to. Get out into more schools and the Mennonite population that doesn’t have access to the regular social media and those sorts of things. We want that information out there.”
Moving to Wellesley has been somewhat of an easy transition for Redman. He has worked for years in rural townships, but also has some big city experience as a member of the Toronto Pearson International Airport fire department. He says even the airport fire department has a few similarities to smaller centres like Wellesley.
“Really, we did the same thing that municipalities do. The bulk of calls were medical, but it is a very busy department. There are two stations that do about 5,000 calls a year: 60 per cent was medical, with car accidents and fire alarm calls and sort of the same thing, just done on a bigger scale,” he said.
Redman was also deputy chief in Blandford-Blenheim Township.
“Coming to Wellesley is very familiar. I have been doing rural firefighting for a number of years, so it is actually quite familiar. I have been in the same type of rural community, same type of scenario.”
Now, Redman just has to learn everybody’s name.
“I have been meeting people slowly. I am looking forward to getting out there more and meeting everyone,” he said. “Once things get a little bit more settled, it is about getting to know even the firefighters a bit better. The big thing is really becoming a part of the community.”