Langley City has a new fire chief.
The white helmet was passed, both literally and figuratively, on Friday afternoon at the Langley City firehall, when Chief Rory Thompson was installed during a brief ceremony. At the same time, acting chief Jim McIntee stepped away from the post he’s held for the past six months and into a life of retirement on the north coast of Vancouver Island.
Thompson, who has 24 years experience as a firefighter on Vancouver Island, came to Langley City from the Justice Institute’s Maple Ridge campus, where he has served as program director of professional programs since 2005.
Introducing a theme of family, which wove its way through the ceremony, Mayor Peter Fassbender welcomed Thompson and his wife, to “our family.”
“It’s an important job and responsibility to lead this team,” he said.
Referring to the recent death of firefighter Ron Dunkley, Fassbender said: “That’s when families really come together and support each other. It reinforces how important being part of a community is.”
City CAO Francis Cheung said the City was fortunate to have “lured” Thompson from the J.I.
He told the gathering, which included City council members, RCMP Supt. Derek Cooke, City and Township firefighters and members of Abbotsford’s and Mission’s fire departments, that the recruitment process had been “rigorous and thorough” to ensure they found someone who fits into the organization.
Perhaps it’s because the City is small, that it is particularly close knit, he said.
“On behalf of staff . . . welcome to the family.”
From fighting fires to participating in the annual Community Days celebration, teamwork is key at the City’s fire department said Assistant Chief Pete Methot.
“Regardless of where we work, we work as a community,” Methot told Thompson.
“You haven’t experienced anything until you’ve buttered hundreds of hamburger and hotdog buns.”
For his part, Thompson said, he was “quite honestly, thrilled” to be offered the position.
“Emergency service personnel share the trait of wanting to serve the community,” said the new chief. He told the gathering he looks forward to playing a key role in helping Langley City live up to its motto as the Place to Be.
Thompson also took a moment to acknowledge his predecessor, joking about how anxious McIntee must be to embark on the next phase of his life — as a fisherman.
“As I’m coming in the front door, Jim is scampering out the back. I think, if you’re quiet, you can hear his truck running.”
Each of the other speakers also took a moment bid farewell to McIntee, thanking him for his service and wishing him the best in his retirement in Port McNeil.
In McIntee’s two years with the City fire department, he made a tremendous contribution to the City, said Cheung.
“For six months you wore two hats, dealing with some challenging issues and came through with flying colours.”