Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Ted Ruiter says the learning curve has been steep during his first year at the helm.
“There’s lots to learn about the district and the nuances involved with the different stakeholders,” said Ruiter, who took over in November 2021. “I’m certainly feeling more comfortable as we move along.”
Ruiter had a list of the department’s accomplishments he wanted to share with the community as he looked back at 2022.
“We completed work on our fire master plan in the summer, and it was well received by council,” he said. “It’s a road map to our future 10 years out that speaks to all aspects of fire service specific to Sooke.”
Due to the tremendous support from the mayor and council, Sooke Fire Rescue is hiring two new fire suppression firefighters, Ruiter said.
“That’s a welcome addition considering the population growth in Sooke going on and the addition of low to medium rise buildings that present different challenges. That kind of construction is new to Sooke and the response to those requires more staff. Along with the population boom comes new challenges.”
The transition to dispatch from Langford to Saanich has been successful.
“It went very smoothly, and we’re continuing to work with our stakeholders and partners,” Ruiter said.
Ruiter said the training of on-call firefighters is set to begin in January, to have them response ready by June.
He’s also pleased that grant funding from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities will allow the work the FireSmart program does in mitigating the threat of wildfire to continue.
Mapping and data on Tsunami Inundation Zones has been updated as well.
Sooke Fire Rescue also completed a dam emergency exercise with the Capital Regional District.
Sooke Fire Rescue also participated in advance planning for atmospheric rivers and extreme heat events with regional partners in 2022.
Emergency Support Services provided information and education at more than 20 community events this year as well, he said.
Looking ahead, one of the goals in the next few months is to hire a new deputy chief to replace Matt Barney, who retired.
“We were also able to award a 30-year service medal to Rick McLeod.”
Ruiter said renovations to the fire hall have been completed.
“We were in a trailer for a few months, so we’re now better positioned in terms of administration.”