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Comment: September 2010

Columnists, like fire chiefs, come and go. We’re disappointed to lose our outspoken Volunteer Vision scribe Brad Patton, who agreed after some arm twisting two years ago to fill a gap and become the voice of the Canadian volunteer fire service.

September 21, 2010
By Laura King


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Columnists, like fire chiefs, come and go. We’re disappointed to lose our outspoken Volunteer Vision scribe Brad Patton, who agreed after some arm twisting two years ago to fill a gap and become the voice of the Canadian volunteer fire service.

I got to know Brad while doing a story in 2008 on his department’s new $355,000 Timberwolf truck, a bear of a vehicle well suited to the often challenging weather and terrain in lovely Centre-Wellington, Ont.

Since then, Brad has tackled in his column the issues of recruitment and retention, the risks of proper training, budgeting, presumptive legislation, managing versus leadership, platooning, bunker gear, the challenges of running volunteer departments versus career departments, and other tough subjects for which he has been roundly praised and harshly ridiculed. (See Brad’s final Volunteer Vision column on page 10).

Brad and I last chatted face to face at the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs conference in May (I had hoped for more face time at our Fire Fighting in Canada golf tournament immediately before the conference but Brad admits he’s no Phil Mickelson – he didn’t believe that none of the other participants can hit the ball straight either and declined my invitation to play).

Anyway, Brad was keen at the time to sound off in his column on some issues related to the role of the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal, and he’s been a fierce advocate of Huntsville Fire Chief Steve Hernan, whose ordeal surrounding an alleged breach of security in the days leading up to the G8 summit has raised the ire of many of his colleagues, Brad included.

Unfortunately for readers, Brad’s job description has been expanded and he’s playing a broader role that will be extremely beneficial to fire services in his region but leaves no time for meeting deadlines imposed by overbearing editors! Best wishes, Brad, for continued success and ongoing outspokenness (which has served our readers so well).

As many of you know, Brad’s workload recently forced him to reduce his yearly column quota to four from eight, with Hope, B.C., Chief Tom DeSorcy handling the other half of the Volunteer Vision mandate. Tom will continue to offer up his perspective as a paid chief of a volunteer department and the challenges that go with that position. And he’ll share that task with Vince MacKenzie, the paid chief of the Grand Falls-Windsor Volunteer Fire Department in Newfoundland. Vince joins FFIC later this year (Brad’s column runs this month, Tom’s in November, then Vince’s in December) but you may have already seen Vince’s FFIC debut in May, when he wrote View from the East, part of our occasional series looking at regional issues. We’ll more properly introduce Vince in December.


We’re thrilled to introduce another new face to FFIC. Chris Dennis is the chief mechanical officer for the City of Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service in Ontario and a self-described truck fanatic. Chris built Vaughan’s new command vehicle from scratch (look for it in our Station to Station section in November) and his passion for helping readers understand the newest technology and trends that affect fire apparatus will be apparent when you read his inaugural Truck Tech column on page 37. Welcome, Chris.


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