The job title is new, but there’s a familiar face at the helm of the Woolwich Fire Department with longtime deputy Dale Martin stepping into the chief’s role. He takes over from the retired Rick Pedersen.

Having retired from the Kitchener Fire Department, Pedersen spent 10 years with the department before announcing his departure earlier this year.

Martin says Pedersen didn’t want a big to-do for his retirement. His fellow firefighters took him out for dinner and then he was on his way.

“He brought us up to date with a lot of equipment, different programs. His background was fire prevention, so it enhanced our fire prevention program in the township,” Martin says of what Pedersen contributed to the fire department for the past decade.

Martin had been the deputy fire chief for Woolwich since 2008. The two worked closely together, so the transition isn’t a real challenge.

“It’s a large responsibility, which I feel I’m up to that. It’s exciting too. I think we’re in pretty good shape as far as a fire department goes. I’m just excited to keep growing that and continue on the path we’re heading,” Martin said.

There’s no set term for him to remain as fire chief. He took over as fire chief on Apr. 3.

Former Woolwich fire prevention officer Dennis Aldous was named as the new deputy fire chief earlier this week.

Martin started with the Woolwich Fire Department in 1978. He says he saw a large fire being fought and the next day he went to the fire chief to see if they needed more volunteer firefighters.

“It just kind of evolved into that. After I started, I knew I enjoyed it so I took more courses and worked my way through, not that I aspired to be a fire chief, I just enjoyed what I did,” Martin said.

He can’t fail to mention the five district chiefs and five district deputy chiefs at each of the stations that make the fire department possible. In his new role he hopes to continue in the direction the fire department’s heading with more training certification.

“We have to continue to train and add to the training that we have. Health and safety is a big thing for me. I have a health and safety background, that’s important for us. And we have future growth happening within the township, so that could add to the demands of the fire department,” Martin said.

They’re also planning to start building a new fire station in Breslau within the next month. And they’ve got to keep on their 20-year truck replacement schedule.

“We’re waiting on one truck for Conestogo and also ordering another new one for Breslau because of the large growth happening in Breslau, along with the airport, so we’re looking at an elevated water stream for an aerial device for Breslau. We’re working on that for this year. The fire station’s supposed to be done by early 2018. We’d like to have our truck in there for that opening,” Martin said.

Along with their restructuring they’re looking to make someone a full-time Community Emergency Management Coordinator. Martin served as the CEMC in his previous role, but the department decided to make it a full-time position. They’re legally required to have a CEMC.

Martin hasn’t had too much on his plate as of yet. The last big fire in the township was on Aspen Crescent in January, and a small house fire in St. Jacobs in February.

“We haven’t had a whole lot of fires lately,” he said knocking on his wooden desk for good luck.

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