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Open House thanks fire chief for over eight years of service to Essex, 48 years to fire protection

September 1, 2023 
By Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Sept. 1, 2023, Essex, Ont. – As Essex Fire Chief Rick Arnel prepares for retirement in the coming weeks, an open house was hosted on Aug. 18 to show appreciation for the over eight years of service he dedicated to Essex Fire & Rescue, and 48 years to fire protection.

Deputy Fire Chief Jason Pillon thanked Arnel for the years of leadership he spent at the helm for the local fire service.

“Throughout your time with us, you have not only demonstrated exceptional leadership, but you have been a source of inspiration to all of us. Your ability to remain calm in the face of adversity, make split-second decisions, and guide our team through the toughest challenges has been nothing short of commendable,” Pillon said.

He also noted Arnel’s sense of humour is one-of-a-kind.


“You made coming to work every day enjoyable,” he added. “You have been a mentor, a leader, and most of all, a friend always willing to help or offer advice.”

Fire Protection Advisor for the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management, Rick Finnemore, and Joseph Krogman, provincial lead evaluator, for the Office of the Fire Marshal, attended the event to thank Arnel for his years of service to fire protection and passion for fire prevention.

It is always important to honour individuals who have served their communities for 48 years, Finnemore said.

Being a fire chief entails overseeing a lot of moving parts, Krogman said. As the individual who reports to council on fire-related matters, Arnel was responsible for soliciting buy-in from not just council, but from the fire service, as well.

“In order to bring that together into a well-functioning service, with a legacy like Rick, who is leaving, is fantastic,” he said.

In listening to some of the firefighters, Finnemore added Arnel has lifted the spirit of the department.

“He has done a fantastic job in getting Essex Fire to where it is,” Krogman added in regards to Arnel’s involvement with a technical committee that developed criteria that mandated firefighters be certified. That is something Arnel is proud of having been involved with.

Arnel began firefighting at 18-years-of-age on Aug. 10, 1975, with the Chatham-Kent Fire Department. He took over the position of fire chief for Essex Fire & Rescue on Jan. 1, 2015. His experience includes a ten-year stint with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, where he excelled to the position of executive vice president.

Previously, Arnel said he hopes to leave the fire department in better shape than he found it. “It is all I can hope for, that I did some good things that have moved the department forward.”

–Essex Free Press

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