Darryl Shyian has been acclaimed as the Bonnyville Fire Department's fire chief after contender Lawrence Ference withdrew his name from the leadership race.
“I believe Darryl will be able to lead the fire department very well,” said Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority chief Brian McEvoy. “Darryl has good leadership skills and he will rise to the occasion and demonstrate those skills over the next six months.”
Shyian said he is looking forward to his new position and “getting everything reunited and serving the community.”
He said there are “lots of challenges, but lots of opportunities” as well.
Shyian is a 19-year fire service veteran and a certified fire inspector and investigator.
He has the highest level of qualification for a professional firefighter and is also an Alberta Safety Codes officer.
Shyian said one thing he will be working on is aggressively recruiting new members.
He said the department is looking for people who are physically fit, dedicated, and at least 18 years old. The department is also seeking recruits with daytime availability. Firefighters practice Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. and Shyian encourages anyone with questions to stop by.
Ference said he dropped out of the race due to time commitment, the declaration firefighters were asked to sign pledging their allegiance to the new chief and the way the BRFA publicly treated former LaCorey fire chief Ulla Hansen.
Prior to the election, the BRFA decided firefighters must sign a declaration throwing their support behind whoever became chief.
Ference thought the declaration was undemocratic and was the “final straw” for him.
“Anyone who's signing that declaration, they're actually setting themselves up for potential discipline… That's not right in a democracy.”
He said other firefighters were also reluctant to sign the declaration.
“It just doesn't make sense … before a ballot can be handed out, you have to sign certain conditions under those ballots. This is not a political party.”
Because Shyian was acclaimed, it is unclear whether firefighters signed these declarations. McEvoy would not comment on whether they signed them.
Ference also cited time commitment as a reason he withdrew from the race.
“In all fairness to the community, the community needs somebody that's willing to commit a lot of time now to unify the group, unify the board. It's a rebuilding process right now and I just don't have the energy.”
Ference also felt leadership within the BRFA board had to change before he were to take on the fire chief's role. He was bothered by the way the BRFA treated Hansen publicly with “disparaging remarks.”
Hansen announced three weeks ago she was retiring as fire chief of the LaCorey Fire Department, saying she was disillusioned and angry at the lack of support from the BRFA leadership. Several other volunteers with the LaCorey department also retired as a show of support.
“Whether it's right or wrong, after serving the community for that many years, those sort of personal attacks have got to be left out of the paper,” Ference said.
Despite dropping out of the race, Ference will remain a lieutenant with the fire department.
“I'm going to try and go in with a positive attitude and work with the new leadership, support Darryl.”
The BRFA board will ratify Shyian's role as chief at its March 10 meeting.