The District of Lantzville on the hunt for a new fire chief.
That’s because Lantzville Fire Rescue chief Rob Chatton has retired, according to Ronald Campbell, the district’s chief administrative officer.
Campbell said the Lantzville’s deputy fire chief, John Marment, is now acting fire chief until a replacement can be found, adding that the district has a job posting for the position.
Chatton, who was paid roughly $55,800 in wages and benefits last year, wasn’t in Lantzville for very long. He joined the department in 2016 as its first-ever paid part-time fire chief, replacing Tom Whipps. He began career with the Shawinigan Lake fire department, where he spent 17 years as a firefighter and deputy chief and worked as an assistant fire chief in Pitt Meadows prior to coming to Lantzville.
His retirement came after councillors had discussed, but delayed action, into covering his position full-time, which would have come with an annual salary of more than $100,000.
Speaking to the News Bulletin, Marment said Chatton left the department in June, electing to retire.
“That was the official word,” he said.
Marment said he’d like to see the district hire from within this time. He said hiring from within has benefits, such as the firefighters will already know their new boss, who, in turn will already know them and their strengths along with the inner workings of the department.
“The guys know the person within,” Marment said. “I have a guy in my department who I know can do the job.”
Marment, who is now 70 years old, said he will throw his name into the hat for the fire chief position.
“I’ve got 35 years. I spent 16 years as a career firefighter in England, in London and I’ve had 15 years with this department. If I don’t know the bloody job now then I never will,” he said.
Marment said the entire structure of the fire department needs to change, adding that he’s submitted a proposal to the district to restructure the volunteer fire department, but hasn’t heard back. He said paperwork is the biggest problem facing the department, adding that Lantzville should have a chief, deputy chief and an assistant chief, who can all share the load when it comes to dealing with paperwork and other administrative tasks.
“This way each chief then gets the responsibility and it takes the load of all the paperwork off the top guy. It’s spread three ways. You can delegate work,” he said.
Regardless of the outcome, Marment said the department is still looking for volunteers and encourages anyone living within Lantzville or near the border of Lantzville to apply. He said anyone outside of those areas shouldn’t apply because they are too far from the fire hall.
“I’ve been getting guys applying that live in downtown Nanaimo. That’s no good,” he said.
The job posting for the part-time fire chief position closes on Aug. 28.