FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Former City of Fort St. John Fire Chief Darrell Blades started off 2022 with a new challenge after taking on the role of deputy chief administrative officer with the city.

Blades is filling the role left behind by Victor Shopland when he announced his retirement in November after 34 years with the city.

Blades has been with the city for six years, holding positions as the deputy fire chief, fire chief and director of public safety. He would have celebrated 20 years in fire services this year, and has worked in multiple municipalities in several fire service positions.

Holding a position in local government outside of a fire department isn’t new for Blades, who served as fire chief and director of community services for several years in 100 Mile House.

“I’ll definitely miss some of the challenges in the fire service. The responding,  not so much responding to calls, but actually helping people out when they’re on a really bad day. I can tell you since I’ve made the transition, I do not miss my pager and getting called out in the middle of the night for an emergency,” said Blades.

Blades is looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that will come with his new position, but he believes the only change is that he won’t be working in a fire hall.

Like the fire service positions he’s held, he believes it’s all about leadership, team building, and providing customer service to the community.

“Coming from the fire service and director of public safety, you have financial skills and admin skills. They’re very similar, just a different style of team. Instead of leading the team at the fire hall, now, I’m leading the team of four directors, that go into 15 managers, and down to two-thirds of the employees with the city.”

“It’s an exciting transfer of just leading a, a much bigger team.”

Blades adds that the city has a good team of directors to make the transition easier.

In the interim, Deputy Fire Chief Robert Norton will be acting director of public safety and fire chief until a replacement is found.