Dennis Aldous went to work Monday as he normally does, but this time when he arrived at the Woolwich Fire Department headquarters he was sporting another stripe on his uniform.
Aldous was named the department’s new chief on September 13, replacing Dale Martin who retired earlier this month. He comes to the job after four years as the deputy chief, a position to which he was promoted after Martin became chief in 2017.
The new chief first joined the department 24 years ago as a volunteer at the Elmira station, eventually serving as fire prevention officer before becoming the deputy chief.
“We are pleased at the end of a very competitive recruitment process, that involved both internal and external candidates, to be promoting Dennis to the position of fire chief,” said David Brenneman, Woolwich’s chief administrative officer, in a statement Monday. “We feel his experience and professional growth and development will be a great asset, as we continue to move forward and implement the priorities outlined in our fire master plan.”
Aldous holds a certificate in both fire service administration and fire service leadership from Dalhousie University, with the township also noting the new chief “brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding surrounding mental health and the effects post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have on our first responders and their families. He is an advocate for mental health education and will assist Woolwich Fire in its efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in a profession where first responders often deal with some incredibly devastating and profound incidents.”
In his new role, Aldous will also assist the township’s community emergency management coordinator with Woolwich’s emergency response during critical incidents.
One of Aldous’ first orders of business will be navigating the rollout of a new mandatory vaccination policy being developed by the Region of Waterloo and member municipalities.
“Right now, we’ll have to try and see what’s happening with the pandemic; the region is apparently now coming on with mandatory vaccination policies, so I’ll have to get right to work on ours for the fire department and see where that leads,” he said.
The Woolwich Fire Department has three full-time staff and some 165 volunteer firefighters across six stations.
Aldous will also be jumping in to the 2022 budget process now underway at the township. While that’s not a completely new experience, this will be the first time he’ll be the one signing off on the numbers and being responsible for the likes of new truck purchases, he notes.