Jeff McArthur became a volunteer firefighter as a way to help his community but it has ignited into a passion for the fire service.
Now, the Southwold Township training officer will be fulfilling a dream of working in the fire service as the new administrative chief of the Brooke-Alvinston Fire Department.
McArthur has been hired by the municipality to work part-time, in an administrative and training role. He started his new job Monday.
McArthur’s career in the fire service started in his hometown of Southwold when he was just 21 years-old. “I was approached by someone in the community and I just started to help out and it grew on me.”
He went to college for fire services courses and he says that “ignited a passion for the fire service industry in me.”
While working his family cash-crop farm with his wife who grew up in Watford and serving on the Southwold department, McArthur started taking courses to learn more about training. As his knowledge grew, he became a leader in his home department and has been a senior officer for six years including as training officer. “I enjoy the leadership and the administrative part of the job.”
That is exactly what Brooke-Alvinston is looking for. The municipality decided earlier this year to merge the two volunteer departments in Alvinston and Inwood under one department and hire an administrative fire chief.
The move came after a report from the Ontario Fire Marshal’s office pointed out a number of discrepancies in the way the departments handle things such as training and the completion of fire reports.
That will be McArthur’s primary responsibility, spending a few hours a week at Brooke-Alvinston’s municipal office. He’ll also be coordinating training for both the Alvinston and Inwood departments.
McArthur will continue his role with the Southwold department and will commute to Brooke-Alvinston for his job.
He’ll attend fires if they happen while he’s in the municipality or be called in if there is a major event. Otherwise, the current chiefs will handle the scenes as usual.
McArthur has already met with Alvinston Chief Ron McCabe and Deputy Chief Kris Redick as well as the Chief of Inwood, Rob Howlett and his deputy. And he had a chance to meet with council after their meeting Monday.
McArthur knows stepping into a leadership role where there were already leaders and merging a department will be an “exciting challenge” adding there is a lot of good people to work with.
“The firefighters and the officers will keep on doing the great job they have been doing,” he says. “There are lots of long serving chiefs and deputies and firefighters and we’ll build on everything they have worked so hard at.”
And McArthur hopes he can ease some of the burdens of being a volunteer.
“To be a volunteer firefighter and have a full-time job and a family, it is a big commitment, I hope the current chiefs and deputy are looking forward to have the some of the workload being taken off their plates to do other stuff they don’t have time for now.”
Mayor Don McGugan is hopeful there will be a smooth transition.
“I would like to thank Chief Rob Howlett and Chief Ron McCabe for the many years served as Fire Chief of Inwood and Alvinston respectively. Their efforts in running and maintaining the two individual stations have been appreciated by council and the public.
“We know they will provide Jeff the support he needs as we move the two departments forward and into one service,” says McGugan.