New deputy fire chief appointed
New St. Catharines Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McCormick, a former retired chief from Brantford at the downtown headquarters Monday June 19, 2017. . Bob Tymczyszyn/St. Catharines Standard/Postmedia Network
Retirement just wasn’t in Jeff McCormick’s cards.
St. Catharines’ new deputy fire chief was out of uniform for less than a year when he wanted back in.
“I found myself missing the fire service,” said McCormick, who was chief of the Brantford Fire Department until last August.
He started his new role in St. Catharines on Monday, replacing former deputy chief Larry Jones. Jones retired in April.
McCormick, 53, served 30 years with the Brantford Fire Department, first as a firefighter in suppression and then in fire prevention. He co-chaired a committee that in 2001 initiated the Brant TAPP-C arson prevention program for children.
In 2010, he was appointed Brantford’s deputy chief and its chief in 2011. He served on the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs Board of Directors from 2014 on and was one of its four vice presidents.
Last August, McCormick retired to pursue an appointment at Fanshawe College’s school of public safety in London. He was co-ordinator for a new fire inspection and fire safety education program — the first of its kind in Ontario — which launched in September.
But McCormick felt an itch for his former career.
“I just missed the fire service, the community service, being part of a bigger team keeping people safe,” he said at St. Catharines Fire Services headquarters on Geneva Street Monday.
When he learned St. Catharines was looking to fill a role, he applied and went through the hiring process. He said he likes that the city is currently moving forward with a fire master plan to ensure the service provided to the community is effective.
“Jeff brings a wealth of knowledge,” said Chief Dave Wood, explaining McCormick has experience with all divisions in fire service, including training and contract negotiations.
Wood said the city received quite a few applications for the job and narrowed it down to three before hiring McCormick.
He’ll join a team that includes Deputy Chief Monique Belair, who’s been in her role since February 2015.
Belair has headed up communications, which will be implementing a new system in late fall, and fire prevention. Wood had to temporarily take on suppression and training after Jones left in addition to his other duties.
“I’m just glad to have my team back at full strength,” he said Monday.
“We’ve got a strong team.”
Wood said the two deputies are ready to step up and take on his role if he’s not there. They’ll be sitting down together in the coming days to determine who will take on what responsibilities.
McCormick spent his first day at city hall for new employee orientation, took a driving test for the city and then attended a meeting about last week’s response to the rollover of the truck hauling phosphine on the QEW.
“I’m just happy to be here and am assimilating myself to the department and the municipality,” he said.
For now, McCormick is commuting into the city from Brantford. He’s been married for 27 years to Shelley and they have two sons. Josh, 25, who is finishing web development studies at Humber College and Sam, 22, is a new police constable with the Brantford service currently at the police college.