Participating in a ceremony at the May 5 Powell River City Council meeting to announce the appointment of Powell River’s new Fire Chief are: Mac Frawer, Chief Administrative Officer; Maggie Hathaway, Protective Services Portfolio; Terry Peters, Powell River’s new Fire Chief; Lori Peters; Ray Peters and Mayor Dave Formosa. Info and Pic Cred: City Hall.
Climbing the ladder from auxiliary firefighter to Fire Chief, Terry Peters has now held every position in the Powell River Fire Department during his 25-year career.
In recognition of his promotion, at the Thursday, May 5th Powell River City Council meeting, Peters was fitted with his Fire Chief’s jacket by his father Ray, a retired captain from the Powell River Fire Department. Peters also had his chief’s epaulets placed on the shoulders of his shirt by Councillor Maggie Hathaway, whose portfolio is Protective Services, and by Chief Administrative Officer Mac Fraser. A large contingent of local firefighters attended the council meeting to witness the ceremony. Peters, formerly the deputy Fire Chief, replaces Dan Ouellette, who has just retired as Fire Chief
Peters said he is now moving from his Deput Chief’s responsibilities for training and operations to being the director of emergency services in Powell River. “I take that title very seriously,” he said. Peters said he wants to carry on with the fire department’s direction. He said Ouellette was an incredible leader and mentor for the department. “I was very fortunate to have a boss who would listen to me,” Peters said. “We got along, we would bounce ideas off each other. I absolutely expect the same from whomever is taking my previous position. I don’t see disrupting anything that Dan has done. I just plan on building on that.”
Working in every position in the fire department, as well as having served both as union president and in management, provides Peters balance in his decision-making process. Having lived in Powell River most of his life, he also brings decades of community knowledge to his fire chief’s position.
In surveying his department’s responsibilities, Peters said it is tempting to consider Powell River a sleepy, little town, but the community’s firefighters are busy responding to calls. The fire department here was just eight calls short of 1,000 calls in 2015. While the City of Vancouver as a whole is extraordinarily busy, looking at various bedroom municipalities within the Greater Vancouver Regional District area, Powell River’s firefighters are actually busier than some of the small Lower Mainland departments, according to Peters. He said this community has a well trained and committed cadre of firefighting staff that has safety for the public and for firefighting professionals as its top priority.
Peters has seen how other fire departments operate. In 2005, he and his family had a year long residency in the Australian island state of Tasmania, after successful application for an exchange program. “It was an incredible program,” he said of his posting. “They were incredibly good to me and I learned a lot. I could have stayed but we just realized our home was here.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said Peters was appointed to the Fire Chief’s position fairly rapidly after Ouellette’s retirement because ultimately, Peters was the right person for the job. “It was the best move for the community,” Formosa said. “Terry is a locally grown product, born and raised here. He worked hard getting his paramedic and firefighter qualifications. He advanced by taking many courses over and above those of his peers.”
Formosa said he has spoken to Peters in the past and he was always excited when talking about the fire department and his love for the organization. The mayor said when the opportunity came up for the deputy Fire Chief’s position, Peters applied for it and advanced to that position. When he had the opportunity to become the chief the progression was just natural.
“You can pick from your own,” Formosa said. “Why wouldn’t you, especially when he has shown so much leadership, dedication and knowledge? His father was a firefighter; he was a captain and it’s in Terry’s blood. People like this should get an opportunity to lead in our own community; people who have built our fire department. It was the right thing to do.”
Fraser, in announcing Peter’s promotion during the council meeting, said he has to make a lot of decision, and some of them are easy. “Making Terry Peters the Fire Chief is the easiest decision I’ve had to make in five years in this community,” Fraser said.