After 11 years of service, North Oyster Fire Department Captain Kris Hill is headed to Sparwood B.C. to join the Sparwood Fire Department as their new Deputy Fire Chief and Deputy Director of Fire Services.
Hill first joined NOFD when he was 16 through their junior program. He quickly climbed the ranks to become an officer with the department. While serving at NOFD, Hill served for five years with the B.C. Wildfire Service.
“I’ve created a second family here in the fire hall for 11 years. I don’t know anything else. Leaving that is really hard,” Hill said, “With COVID things are a little different, but we eat breakfast together, we eat dinner together, we do truck checks, we do calls, we do practices, we do instruction — it just never ends. It feels like we spend more time with each other than we do with our own families. I didn’t know how much it would end up meaning to me.”
When Hill looks back on his years with NOFD, he cherishes the connections that he’s made with community stakeholders. One of his favourite things about NOFD is that it’s a community-focused fire hall.
“We actually live in the community we serve. We know everybody. We know all the side roads, we know where we’re going, we know the area we serve. We genuinely care about every call we go on because this is our community.”
As a fire prevention officer, Hill has had the opportunity to speak to youth in their schools about fire safety and what it’s like to be a firefighter. Of all the community engagements Hill has done over his career, his school visits always held a special place in his heart, because it was one of those same visits that inspired him to become a firefighter.
“That’s how I started. I was in elementary school in Maple Ridge. I got to put on the gear and I thought it was the coolest thing. That same night, my neighbour’s car was on fire. My parents woke me up to take a look and there were firefighters shovelling snow into the hood of a car. I knew from that moment on that this is what I wanted to do,” Hill said.
Serving with NOFD has given Hill ample opportunities to advance his education and experience in the fire service. He has obtained his Fire Officer IV training — which is for experienced firefighters learning to work in a supervisory role.
Hill plans to obtain his Fire & Safety Studies diploma and a diploma in Emergency Management. Once he’s completed that education, Hill will go on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, gaining an Executive Fire Management Certificate, and a Bachelor’s in Emergency Management.
“In the fire service, we like to say the day you stop learning is the day you retire. It doesn’t matter if you’re a junior firefighter, an officer, or a chief officer, you’re always learning something,” he said.
Hill plans to remain with the Sparwood Fire Department for many years into the future. Sparwood is a community of around 7,000 people and is one of the last towns before the B.C. Alberta border. Hill says that he looks forward to continuing to engage with community stakeholders in a small-town environment.
“What drew me there was that it’s a community like this. I’m going to get to live there, serve that community and get to know everybody while still obtaining my dream of being a career firefighter.”
June 3 will be Hill’s last day with NOFD and he starts with the Sparwood Fire Department in his new role on June 7.