Coldstream Fire Department loses senior officials

Both the chief and deputy chief at Coldstream Fire Department are stepping down after their term

After just one year of leading the ranks, Coldstream’s fire chief is stepping down. And the next top officer is joining him.

Both the chief, Dave Sturgeon, and deputy chief, Luke Lecavalier, are resigning from their positions with the Coldstream Fire Department. The young firefighters – both are in their 20s – will fulfill the remainder of their terms until the department’s annual general meeting in January and will resume their roles as volunteer members.

“The official reason is time commitment,” said Sturgeon, who is struggling to dedicate the required hours to the department as chief, while tending to his business and family life.

For Lecavalier, both time and politics have played a role in his decision.

“It’s kind of taking its toll,” said Lecavalier, who enjoys the job but isn’t happy with how requests from the department have been met by council. “It just wears on a guy.”

The Coldstream Fire Department recently asked that a paid, full-time fire chief position be looked at to manage both the Coldstream and Lavington halls – something a 2010 Firewise Consulting report recommends.

“I strongly feel that it’s important they look at that and revisit it,” said Lecavalier of the request that was simply filed by Coldstream council at a recent technical advisory committee meeting.

Mayor Jim Garlick insists that council wants to help the department with the challenges it’s facing, but a paid chief may not be something the community can support or afford at this time.

“We are still working with the fire department,” said Garlick, who also suggests that the request for a paid chief may have been better presented with proposals, budgets and background material.

According to Sturgeon, the fire chief request is just the icing on several layers of disappointment where the department has asked for something and been left walking away empty-handed.

The chief understands that some requests obviously cannot be met due to finances and other factors, but with any appeal he says the hope is: “You ask for the moon and maybe get the tops of the trees.”

Another issue facing the Coldstream department, and many other local fire departments, is a steady decline in experience among the members.

“We used to have 10-years-plus average, now we’re down to one-and-a-half,” said Lecavalier of the demographic shift. “And it’s just getting harder and harder to recruit.”

It’s unknown if anyone will step up to fill the top two positions in January.

Sturgeon foresees someone coming forward to replace him as chief, but isn’t sure what will become of Lecavalier’s position.

“The position that I don’t see being filled is the deputy chief, but I could be wrong. It’s a tough job but you don’t get the glory.”

Regardless of what happens, the local fire department’s main priority will be fulfilled.

“We’re still going to be at fires, we’re still going to look after the residents,” said Sturgeon.

But he is cautious that without volunteers who have the time, energy and knowledge to dedicate to the positions, things could deteriorate at the department.

Maintenance is just one area that could affect the department’s rescue efforts.

“Let’s say you go to hop in the truck and it doesn’t work,” said Sturgeon. “If your pump is not working you are not going to be able to put water on the fire.”