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Toronto fire chief to retire

Feb. 13, 2012, Toronto – Bill Stewart is retiring April 30 after nine years as chief of Toronto Fire Services (TFS).

February 13, 2012
By Laura King

Feb. 13, 2012, Toronto – Bill Stewart is retiring April 30 after nine years as chief of Toronto Fire Services (TFS).

Stewart said in a notice to all TFS personnel Monday morning that the decision to retire after 39 years and five months of service was difficult.

“Throughout my career I have enjoyed the privilege to work with men and women who are committed to a common goal in serving the citizens of our city,” Stewart said.

“Collectively, we have moved the Toronto Fire Services forward as well-respected fire department in North America and recognized around the world. I have witnessed significant changes throughout my career and will now have the opportunity to view the service as the organization moves forward in the future.”

Stewart served in the former City of North York Fire Department for 26 years before amalgamation of the new City of Toronto on Jan. 1, 1998. He was named TFS chief on May 1, 2003.
Stewart has been in the spotlight recently, fighting proposed budget cuts and defending TFS’s response times.

Stewart told CITY TV in November after a story in the Toronto Star about response times that TFS needs more training, better technology and more stations to improve response times to meet the NFPA standard of six minutes.

“The budget committee is aware of that and members of council, and it's their decision in terms of the level of service they provide,” Stewart said.

“The reality is that we work with what money is given to us. Be very clear, the city council decides the level of service they're going to provide, not the fire chief.”

TFS has fought some fierce blazes during Stewart’s tenure, including the highrise fire at 200 Wellesley St. in September 2010, the six-alarm Queen Street fire in February 2008 and the Sunrise Propane explosion in August 2008.

Stewart has presented at chiefs conferences and other educational seminars on the magnitude and challenges of the Wellesley Street fire, a wind-driven blaze during which more than 1,000 people were evacuated from a housing complex.