Jamie Holmes appointed as Salt Spring’s deputy fire chief

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A long-standing gap in Salt Spring Fire Rescue management has been partly resolved at last with appointment of Jamie Holmes to the deputy chief position.

The Salt Spring Fire Protection District announced the appointment, effective May 1, at the April 26 business meeting.  

“The board of trustees is fortunate to have Acting Chief Holmes’ skills and experience on their management team. We are grateful for his continued service to our community and excited for the future of emergency services on Salt Spring Island,” said board chair Per Svendsen.

Holmes thanked the board for their support.

“I’m willing to continue to support Salt Spring Fire Rescue and the community of Salt Spring Island as best as I can,” he said at the meeting.

Holmes has been serving as acting fire chief since November 2020 and will continue in that position for the time being. The announcement states he has served Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue for 25 years since joining the department as a paid-on-call volunteer in January 1996. He became a career firefighter in 2002 and ascended though the ranks, becoming assistant chief in 2015. 

“During his 15-year tenure as training officer, the department successfully trained many volunteer firefighters that would go on to become career professionals both within our own department and in other departments across the province,” Svendsen said. “Acting Chief Holmes set a benchmark that members be trained to the NFPA 1001 standard. This high standard allows members to apply for a career with any department in North America.”

The deputy chief position has been vacant since 2015, when former deputy Arjuna George took on acting chief duties. George was officially hired as chief in 2016, but has been on personal leave since the end of June 2020. Having Holmes appointed deputy chief means there will be a non-union management position available to him if George returns.  

Open positions on the board of trustees may be more difficult to fill. There are currently two vacancies at the seven-member table, and another two trustees will see their three-year terms expire at the end of this year’s annual general meeting. While that meeting would normally take place in April, COVID-19 meeting restrictions pushed last year’s AGM to December and a date has not yet been set for this year. 

The board had attempted to fill the two vacancies before the end of 2020, but a call for nominations went unheard. New interest from a prospective board member in former school trustee John Wakefield has inspired the board to try again. 

The trustees voted last week to initiate the election process and appoint a returning officer. Announcements of the nomination period are expected in the coming weeks. 

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