Nanaimo Fire Rescue Chief Karen Fry will become the next fire chief of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services in the new year. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo Fire Rescue Chief Karen Fry will become the next fire chief of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services in the new year. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo’s fire chief hired to become Vancouver’s fire chief

Karen Fry calls the move a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity

Nanaimo’s fire chief will be heading across the strait to become Vancouver’s fire chief.

Karen Fry, who has been Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief since 2017, will start her new position with the City of Vancouver as of Jan. 4.

Fry said in a phone interview Friday that the move to Vancouver offers more opportunity to continue efforts toward improving safety for the public and members of the fire service.

“It’s a good move for me and a good move for Vancouver, I think,” Fry said. “I think there’s a lot of stuff and a lot of work I still have to do in the fire service and I think a place like Vancouver’s definitely going to provide a bigger stage and opportunity to effectively make a bigger difference in public safety.”

Fry said what she’ll have to do first is to sit down with members of the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services’ administration team and get a clear sense of what they have already been working on and doesn’t plan on making “changes right off the bat.”

“The organization’s been under a lot of stress with the opioid crisis and with homelessness issues and COVID on top of that, so I think [I’ll be] trying to understand all of the different issues they’ve been having and how I can best support that,” Fry said. “Those are going to be some of my first points of action … I’m a big building code and fire-prevention person. I’m also big on the wellness of the staff and protecting them and making sure we’ve got really good training set up for our staff to make sure they’re prepared to go in to all of the hazards that they go in to.”

Fry said in Nanaimo Fire Rescue she’s worked with staff who are committed to public safety, but are also innovative, engaged in problem-solving and are not afraid to take on new challenges. She cited the new Fire Station No. 1, the move to have firefighters train up to take on the role of emergency medical responders and four-member engine staffing as examples.

“It’s crazy when you think about the amount of stuff that the organization, with support of the mayor and council and all the other fire chiefs and our union firefighters and prevention staff, all of the stuff that we’ve done in the last four years,” she said.

Fry is keeping mum about who she thinks Nanaimo’s next fire chief might be, but said the city is doing a search for prospective candidates and said there are “great staff within our department” and her preference would be for the next chief of Nanaimo Fire Rescue to be selected from among current staff.

“We’ve worked really hard on building capacity and, for me too, it’s really about making sure that all of the people that are left here definitely have to skills and ability and direction to be the chief, so I’ve been working really hard at that,” she said.

This will be the second time Fry has left Nanaimo Fire Rescue to advance her career with other municipalities. She started her fire service career in Nanaimo as a dispatcher before taking a position in Surrey where she worked up the ranks before she returned from Nanaimo and took over from former chief Craig Richardson.

As to why she chose to continue her career in Vancouver, Fry called it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Nanaimo’s been fantastic and even through my whole process I said to them I have no reason to leave Nanaimo because I have a great team and a great city and great staff, but it’s hard to pass up an offer like this. These opportunities don’t come along but once in a lifetime,” she said.

READ ALSO: New fire chief sparks fresh perspective

READ ALSO: Ground-breaking ceremony held for Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1

The press release noted that the City of Vancouver undertook “an extensive, nationwide search” to replace retired Chief Darrell Reid.

Vancouver’s deputy city manager Paul Mochrie said in the release that the city is thrilled to be hiring Fry to lead “a lot of important work” in 2021 with COVID-19 response and managing essential services.

“She brings deep expertise and a record of effective leadership in the fire service and she will be an invaluable addition to our city leadership team,” Mochrie said.

-files from Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

firefighters

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peter Crema and Harmony Gray (from left), past participants of the Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Code Switching teen art group, at work in ArtLab in 2019. The NAG will be expanding the space thanks to a $75,000 arts infrastructure program grant. (Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre receive new arts infrastructure funding

Province announces recipients of funding through B.C. Arts Council program

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help Nanaimo’s new baseball team look picture-perfect

NightOwls announce partnership with Angela Waldick of Nightengales Photography

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

A person experiencing homelessness in downtown Nanaimo last week. (News Bulletin photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Change approach to combatting homelessness

Letter writers express frustration with status quo

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo councillors like new sustainable buying policy

Finance and audit committee recommends council approve new procurement policy

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

FOI records provided to the News Bulletin from the City of Nanaimo in 2018. (News Bulletin file photo)
Samra’s numerous FOI requests to City of Nanaimo aren’t ‘vexatious,’ privacy commissioner decides

Former CAO says records will assist her in a future B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Most Read