Friday, August 21, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prince Rupert begins the search for a Fire Chief as Ron Miller prepares to step away from the position he has held for thirteen years, Four will ride for Cops for Cancer and the Dundas arraignment is postponed, some of the highlights of the day from Tuesday.
DAILY NEWS Headline story, Tuesday, August 11, 2009
FAREWELL TO A VETERAN FIREFIGHTER IN RUPERT-- After thirty three years on the job, thirteen of them as the top firefighter for the City of Prince Rupert, Fire Chief Ron Miller prepares for his retirement on August 31st (see story here) Item reproduced at the bottom of this post as well.

Four member of law enforcement in the Prince Rupert region will take part in the upcoming Cops for Cancer ride, which runs from Prince George to Prince Rupert from September 11 to 17 (see story here)

The arraignment of Edward Dundas, regarding a violent incident over the weekend in downtown Prince Rupert was put on hold, after Crown Counsel requested the delay pending further charges from the RCMP. (see story here)

Sheila Gordon-Payne moves into administration at Northern Health as she trades in her Nurses' garb for the position of health service administrator (see story here)

Tuesday's Sport page featured Moe Hays column on golf.

SON CHARGED WITH FATHER'S MURDER IN PRINCE RUPERT STABBING INCIDENT-- The Northern View updates their coverage of the stabbing incidents of downtown Prince Rupert on the weekend (see story here)

Front page, headline story:

Farewell to a veteran firefighter in Rupert
By George T. Baker

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Pages one and five

A hole has opened up at the top of the city's fire pole.

Mayor Jack Mussallem has confirmed that the city is looking for a brand new fire chief and he expects one to be named fairly soon.

Ron Miller is stepping down after more than 13 years as the city's top fire official, and after more than 33 years at the First Avenue fire department.

August 31 will be Miller's last day and while the fire chief is currently on vacation and was unavailable for comment, his former deputy, Jim Martin, said that it will be his leadership that will be most remembered.

"I always liked him as a boss. He had good judgment, he backed me up on my decisions [as deputy chief] and garnered great respect," said former right hand man, Martin who retired earlier this decade.

Martin said that Miller's greatest strength during his time was his love of the department and the amount of heart he put into the job of fire chief.

"He cares very, very deeply for the department. That gave him a lot of inner strength, he cares very, very deeply for what the department does and the manpower - the people that work for it," said Martin.

That strength, said Martin, could be a double-edge sword for a leader.

"Such care colours every decision that you make. His outward skill was bookkeeping and administration work, But it also inwardly conflicted him because he knew he had a duty to work for the department and that does not always agree with your fiduciary responsibilities. It's something that people who have never been in management don't always understand."

Mussallem added that Miller wouldn't be easily replaced. It is not 100 per cent guaranteed that the city will hire internally, though there is some thought that deputy Dave McKenzie might be the favourite to replace Miller.

McKenzie said he would not comment on that possibility, as it was not his place to do so, but did confirm his candidacy.

"We are not only searching locally, but we are searching far and wide for the best candidate. The best candidate may be somebody within our region," said Mussallem.

Mussallem added that the City was looking for someone who has experience working in a community the size of Prince Rupert.

"We are also looking for someone who understands working in a team approach with crews and
understands the complexities of working with fire equipment. And someone who sets a good tone and morale with personnel," listed Mussallem.

During Miller's time as fire chief there were several fires that required his department's attention, none bigger or lasting longer than the J.S. McMillan Fish Plant fire of 2003.

According to previous reports, the battle lasted eight days and damages to the J.S. McMillan fish plant were estimated at $8 million. The blaze, which lighted the pre-dawn Rupert skies with a shower of glowing embers and threw out billows of smoke that could be seen across town in Cow Bay, drew out crowds of locals to vantage points outside the police blockage.

Many onlookers, alerted by radio reports that reached as far down as Washington State, came armed with cameras and video recorders as they watched the towering fire.
Martin remembered the challenges and frustration faced while fighting a fire that took no lives, but ended with great job loss for Rupertites.

"We had very little water to work with because the water lines were failing at the same time in the plant, and so our water was just dumping into the ocean. So, having to find ways to bring water into fight the fire showed good leadership under the circumstances," said Martin.

He said Miller's adaptability and stewardship played a significant factor in over coming the fire.

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