A five-month search for a new fire chief for Kamloops has ended with the hiring of a deputy fire chief in Edmonton.
Dale McLean, a 33-year veteran with that city's fire department, takes the wheel in Kamloops as of Oct. 21.
In addition to being promoted through the Edmonton Fire Rescue Service ranks as lieutenant, captain and station captain, McLean has also been an executive board member of the International Association of Fire Fighters for two decades.
"We are pleased to welcome Dale to the City of Kamloops. His broad range of experience is an asset to Kamloops Fire Rescue," said David Duckworth, City director of corporate services and community safety.
"His excellent reputation with the City of Edmonton union and management staff makes him an excellent candidate for the job."
The fire chief search was extensive, with the City getting 40 applications and headhunting another six candidates.
McLean, 56, was one of those six.
"We wanted to make sure we got the right person in place, who would be a good leader, who could groom some good talent within KFR so next time there would be good internal candidates to consider," said Duckworth.
"He's got lots of experience from the hall floor right up to deputy chief position. . . . It didn't matter if we talked to management or union, they all spoke really highly of him."
Duckworth also said it was an indication of McLean and the other Edmonton fire staff that the chief there was just named the Canadian fire chief of the year.
"The top person is a credit to those around them," said Duckworth.
"I'm looking forward to having a good solid leader in place."
McLean himself said he wasn't looking at any career moves, but when he was approached with a chief's position, he gave it serious thought.
"The chance to be a fire chief in a progressive and modern city and fire service is very intriguing for anyone who's a deputy," he said in a phone interview from Edmonton.
"It's going to be hard to leave an organization that's running as well as it is. But it's a good opportunity to work with another good organization."
In his interviews and conversations with City staff, he got a good feeling for what they're doing, for the support for Kamloops Fire Rescue and for how well run the City is.
"That support and value people put on fire rescue is really important for me," he said.
While Kamloops and Edmonton are vastly different in size, the challenges with running a municipal fire department are similar. There are budgets to meet and taxpayers to answer to.
"I don't think there's any service that's more public that the fire service," said McLean.
He said his biggest challenge will be to get to really understand the department's issues and see if there are ways of making improvements.
"I certainly wouldn't come in and turn the organization upside down. It's just a matter of bringing another perspective."
McLean has two grown daughters — one in Edmonton, the other in Victoria with a two-year-old girl.
He has some idea of what Kamloops is like. When he was young, his family would spent summers here with his uncle. He's also been through for hockey tournaments.
McLean replaces Neill Moroz, 53, who suddenly retired last May after taking a personal leave from the job with no public explanation.