Lantzville welcomes new fire chief

NANAIMO – Robert Chatton hired from Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue as Lantzville's first paid, part-time fire chief.

Lantzville’s first paid part-time fire chief takes the reins Monday (Jan. 11).

Robert Chatton will take on the top job at the Lantzville volunteer fire department Jan. 11, after nine years as assistant fire chief of training for Pitt Meadows Fire and Rescue Service.

A panel, that included chief administrative officer Brad McRae and outgoing volunteer fire chief Tom Whipps, chose Chatton of 17 applicants.

It will be the first time Lantzville’s fire rescue service is led by a paid part-time chief, a result of recommendations from a department review that showed the status quo isn’t sustainable and the current $12,000 annual honorarium for the position is not enough to attract qualified candidates.

McRae said with B.C.’s new training playbook and heavier requirements on fire departments to do more and be under more difficult guidelines, the district needed to move to a pay position.

“Chief Chatton brings a long history of developing departments and working forward with creating new opportunities and change and training and we were very impressed with his interview,” said McRae, who looks forward to providing Whipps the ability to retire, as well as stability for the department in regards to who will move them forward and seeing what direction the new fire chief believes the department needs to go.

Whipps announced plans for retirement last year, but stayed on as the community undertook a political byelection and took steps to fill his position.

“I have a great admiration for the amount of hours and the amount of time that Chief Whipps has put in, not just the fire department but the community,” McRae said.

“He will absolutely be missed.”