The District of Tumbler Ridge has replaced the recently departed Fire Chief Matt Treit with another long-term local resident.
Dustin Curry has been hired to the position of Protective Services Manager and Fire Chief.
Curry is a long term resident of Tumbler Ridge and has been with the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department since 2015.
Curry was promoted to the role of Captain in 2013, and Lieutenant the year before that. Curry says he’s devoted a lot of his energy to becoming a firefighter, and is glad his hard work has paid off. “Since becoming Lieutenant, I’ve devoted a lot of my time outside the hall to fire training,” he says. “Right now, I am working on my Bachelors in Fire Safety Studies. The precursor to that is your first two years as a fire officer certificate. I am in the third stage of that.”
Curry says that most municipal fire departments are looking for people with level three or better. “Right now I’m two-thirds of the way through that. It was an ideal qualification for this job. A lot of the training I’ve been doing has been towards this degree, as well as fire investigation. I’m certified in Fire Investigations. I’ve taken Life Safety Education … a bunch of other fire related stuff in both emergency management and fire services.”
Getting this job he says, is the culmination of years of hard work. “This is what I want to do,” he says. “When I started in 2005, it was just something to do, but quickly the hook sunk in and I fell in love with it. And I wanted to work as a fire fighter. Not mining, not mechanics, this tops it all.”
He says his time spent working at the mine was great. “I learned a lot and there was a great variety of people. But work shouldn’t be work, it should be something that you love. This is that for me.”
Curry says his plans, at least at the moment, are to stay in Tumbler Ridge. “I was born in Dawson, lived in Tumbler Ridge for ten years, then moved away for my teen years. When I came back in 2004, it was a five-year plan. It was come in, make the big bucks working at the mine, set ourselves up, then get out of here. But we put down roots. We had kids: Tylor in 2006, the twins in 2011. The five-year plan became ten years, and ten years became … ‘why do we want to leave?’”
He says the only reason he has considered moving was to get a job in the fire service. “This wasn’t the first job I applied for, but I was very happy this came up and was even happier that I was successful.”
He says he’s coming into a very strong department. “Chief Treit definitely got us into a good position. My focus is just to continue on with that. We’ve got an excellent training program. Can it be tweaked? Absolutely. There’s new standards the province sets, which are coming out this year, so we’re going to move in that direction. It’s going to be exciting times.”
The biggest thing he wants to work on? Recruitment and retention. “We need to get people in the door. We’re still low on numbers. We could always use more people. We need bodies. We need to get people here and keep them here. Most people will stay for two years; that’s kind of the make or break. Maybe that will involve implementing a Cadet or Junior Firefighter program.”
One of his first jobs as Chief will be to take ownership of the brand new ladder truck. “I’m going to be heading down in first week of November to do pre-delivery inspection on it to make sure everything we asked for and was contracted is done.”
After that, he says, there are always improvements that need to happen. The windows will need to be replaced at the Fire Hall. And he’ll have to implement new training to meet the new Provincial Standards. “Ladder 7 is showing up in mid-November, and all the firefighters will have to be acclimated to it.”
He says his commitment is to do his best to provide emergency services for the community.