The chief of the Nelson fire department will retire this spring.
Len MacCharles will hang up his helmet at the end of May and the city is already looking for his successor.
MacCharles was hired in 2014 from the City of Calgary where he was deputy chief of the fire department.
“Being able to come to Nelson and be the fire chief and director of emergency management has been just a blessing. I’ve cherished every moment of it. I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to come here and finish out my career here,” MacCharles said in an interview with Vista Radio.
The target for his departure is the end of May and MacCharles hopes to work with his successor. “There’s lot of information to share…the hope is that I will be able to spend some time with them to pass on some of the things we were working on and some of the things we were hoping to achieve in the future.”
MacCharles says his most memorable experience during his nearly eight years in Nelson was dealing with the wildfire risk and threats.
“Certainly the last three of the last five years have been very notable. For me, coming from a large urban center to Nelson there was a bit of a learning curve but when I started figuring things out I was really amazed at how much work is being done and how many people are trying to reduce that risk.”
Looking back at his 40-plus years in firefighting, MacCharles says the principles of firefighting haven’t changed much but some of techniques have.
“It’s not just a matter of surrounding and drowning a fire. There’s a lot of technical expertise that goes into timing of different tactical modes and firefighters today have to be pretty highly trained, not just in fires, but in so many activities of what they do related to emergency response and rescue, not to mention we have a real strong role in medical first response in our community and elsewhere,” the chief explained.
As for his retirement days, MacCharles doesn’t have any big plans other than hitting the links.
“My golf game has been pretty lousy for quite a while so I’m hoping that improves. I know I’ve got some golf dates planned with the retired police chief, Paul Burkart, so he’s going to give me a few lessons and we’re going to improve both of our games. I looking forward to going down that path and spending more time with certainly my wife and other friends and family,” MacCharles said.
“It’s been an honour to have been the fire chief and director of emergency management for the City of Nelson. I’ve got great respect for the work that’s been done by city council and city staff. Everybody involved in the city wants the best for the city and they all work pretty hard to deliver that,” MacCharles added.
“But most important for me, it’s been a privilege to have been able to work with such a fantastic group of professional firefighters here in town and the staff that are here. I can say I will always cherish my time.”