Sidney’s new deputy fire chief won’t be a new face to the town’s residents.
Brett Mikkelsen, a volunteer with the fire department since 1996 and a longtime Sidney resident, takes up his new full time position March 20.
“We’re a very strong department,” Mikkelsen said. “We do things very well. Working as a paramedic, I have the luxury of working with other departments and I can gauge where we are. I’m very, very excited to join the full time team, but it won’t change who I am or how I act in the after hours. I’m just looking forward to going to work every day and continuing to do something I love.”
Mikkelsen will keep his paramedic job as long as the two positions don’t conflict.
The Sidney Volunteer Fire Department has been without a deputy since Jim Tweedhope moved from the deputy to the chief’s position in August 2011.
“He’s well respected here at the department. I think the guys will look up to him,” Tweedhope said. “It’s going to be exciting for him and exciting for us.”
Mikkelsen is the department’s longest-serving volunteer at a time when the fire hall is struggling to find enough people to respond to calls, especially between Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We’ve really noticed a real significant drop, probably in last five years,” Tweedhope said. “Up until that time we had some members who were part of a local business who were able to come pretty often.”
But life changed and those members retired or moved away. Now, the Town of Sidney and the fire department are pondering a “long term proposal for staffing” for fire service.
The department received numerous applications for the deputy job, Tweedhope said, from as far away as the U.K. and the U.S., as well as across Canada.
“It was a stiff competition and I think we got the best person for the job and for the department.”