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Charlie Lake Fire Chief moving on

Charlie Lake Assistant Fire Chief Stuart Larson will be getting a promotion next week, as Fire Chief Steve Munshaw leaves for another job. After taking over the position on May 1, 2012, Munshaw has accepted a job as Fire Chief in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, starting next Monday, September 17.

He says he will be responsible for four different fire halls and 100 firefighters, and they made him an offer he couldn't resist. In addition to more responsibility and a salary the Peace River Regional District couldn't match, Crowsnest Pass is only two hours away from his children's grandparents.

"It was not something I had planned," he says, "but when opportunities like this arise, you really have to take a long, hard look at them and see if that's the positive direction that we need to go."

Munshaw has spent the last five months rebuilding the Fire Department after all of its firefighters handed in their pagers when the PRRD took over. He believes that in his time there, the majority of his goals for the department have already been met. He points out that the station now has a officer structure in place, and is running in the parameters it needs to be.

"It's a good move for myself, a good move for my family, and we've got the fire department up and running to the point where everything's in place now," he argues. "There isn't anything we're really missing, it's just going to completely move forward."

Munshaw's last day is Friday, and after he leaves, Larson will take over as Acting Fire Chief. The decision to move wasn't an easy one, as he moved his family up here and bought a house, but Munshaw says it was made after conversations with both the Regional District and the firefighters. Although the Charlie Lake volunteer firefighters are sad to see him go, the impression is that they understand his taking the opportunity and support him.

"My firefighters here aren't excited that I'm taking this leave, but they see why I'm taking it," believes Munshaw. "We're always striving to even better ourselves and they got to the point now where they can move on quite comfortably without needing me."

PRRD Chief Administrative Officer Fred Banham says that although the District is disappointed to see him leave, it appreciates all that he has done for the department.

"He came in under fire and really conducted himself professionally and upfront and got us through those times."

While a new Fire Chief will eventually have to be hired, Banham says there's no rush as Larson is perfectly capable of taking over for the time being.

"It gives us a great opportunity  to look at the whole situation. We've already had a meeting with the officers, and we'll be talking to the firefighters as well and then we'll be making a decision on how to move forward."