After five months of easing into the position, Nicholson Fire Chief Parker Vaile is getting more comfortable with his new job.
“I’m starting to get a little more comfortable with the job. I was always pretty comfortable with the role of firefighter, but being in command has taken some getting used to. There’s a lot of decisions to make, and you have to make them pretty quickly,” said Vaile, who stepped up to fill the role after former fire chief Markus Kellenberger left.
“It’s big boots to fill for sure. He (Kellenberger) knew everything about everything.”
Being a fire chief is a major commitment, and Vaile jumped straight from firefighter to chief because he was able to give it the time it needs. As the co-owner of VP Waste Solutions, Vaile’s job gives him the flexibility to give more time to the fire department.
“That’s why I decided to do this, I knew I could give it the time it needs,” he said. “It’s been a lot of time, especially because I’m still learning.”
Nicholson has responded to about five calls since Vaile assumed the leadership role, and he learned a lot on the job. After taking some command training in Salmon Arm, through the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, he has noticed a big difference.
And equally as important as the training, is the support he has received from the rest of the department while he makes this transition.
“I jumped straight from firefighter to chief. So it’s really nice to have Dale (Rintoul) as the Deputy Chief because I have questions all the time,” said Vaile. “And Nicki Jo (Wolfram) is our training officer, she’s fantastic. She’s probably the most qualified person in the hall, but we won’t let her do anything else other than be our trainer because she’s the most qualified person to train everybody. It’s important that the training officer know more than everybody else.”
The department has been fortunate this year, having fewer calls. With the mild winter, there was less burning, and therefore fewer chimney fires.
But fire prevention is always a priority for the department. They are giving away free smoke detectors at the hall for anyone in the Nicholson area who needs one. Stop by the fire hall on any Tuesday evening to pick one up.
The department is also inviting anyone who is interested in volunteering as a firefighter to stop by their Tuesday evening practice to see what it is all about.
“When you first walk into this place it’s a bit overwhelming, then eventually it starts to feel like a second home,” said Vaile. “Everyone is here for the same reason, we’re just here to help.”