On a sunny Friday afternoon Jim Tweedhope fiddles with with a broken rail on the back of a Sidney fire truck.
“I like working with my hands, I don’t mind sitting in the office but if my paperwork’s done I’d rather be out here on the floor,” he explained. “I don’t like to be idle.”
It’s something he and now former chief Dan Holder have in common — an ability to repair the little things that go wrong around the Sidney Fire hall.
After 19 years as chief, Holder is officially retired and Tweedhope is taking the lead at Sidney Fire.
Over 35 years Holder led a number of changes to the department during his years and is leaving the department stronger and more capable of serving the community.
“It’s been good, he’s certainly open-minded … We’ve become good friends over the years too,” Tweedhope said. “Dan (Holder) really has changed the department from what it was to what it is today. Now the focus is making sure the firefighters are well-trained … The most valuable resource is our volunteers and safety is built into every bit of training we do.”
Tweedhope was promoted from his position as deputy chief to replace Holder.
“We will miss his leadership in the fire department and wish him the very best in his retirement,” said Sidney Mayor Larry Cross in announcing the leadership change, made official on Aug. 1.
“Jim has prepared himself well for the position of fire chief and I look forward to working with him,” Cross said. “He will bring strong direction to the town’s volunteer fire department enabling us to continue a high level of service to our community.”
Tweedhope started as a volunteer with Sidney Fire and got his first job with the fire department in 1997, as fire prevention officer. Over the years other titles followed including fire captain; local assistant fire commissioner and deputy municipal emergency coordinator. He’s been actively involved in the training of new recruits.
Throughout his career, Tweedhope has proven his outstanding leadership, Cross said, has an extensive background and specialized training in all aspects of fire department operations which he will be able to draw on as chief.
“We need to look ahead to the future, there’s got to be lots of planning,” he said. “I would like to see us be the best trained fire department.”