Leamington Fire Service’s chief of the past six years is making a short move westward.
Charles “Chuck” Parsons submitted his resignation from the position to the Municipality of Leamington on Thursday, March 30 — the day after he was informed that his application for the position as chief of the Kingsville Fire Department was accepted. Parsons will serve with Leamington Fire Services until Friday, Apr. 21 and officially start as chief of the Kingsville department Monday, Apr. 24.
“It’s a new challenge and a new opportunity,” Parsons stated. “I’m looking forward to it, although at the same time I’m sad to leave a really good crew in Leamington. I’ve really enjoyed working with the crew, the municipality and its management. It’s been a pleasure working here.”
Parsons will replace Kingsville Fire Department chief Bob Kissner, who retired in late February of this year at the age of 60. Since Kissner’s retirement, KFD deputy chief Jeff Dean has been serving as acting chief and will continue to do so until Parsons’ arrival later this month. Kingsville is served by a fire department of two stations — a ‘north’ location in Cottam and a ‘south’ detachment in urban Kingsville — represented by more than 50 firefighters in total. Leamington’s force is made up of 28 firefighters.
Parsons has also been serving with the Municpality of Leamington as the community emergency management coordinator. He joined the LFS in 2001 as deputy chief following service as the captain of fire prevention and training in Grand Valley — north of Toronto — beginning in 1988. His career began in Red Lake, Ont. as a forest firefighter. Parsons submitted an application for the Kingsville chief position about four weeks ago and was subject to an interview process by a board made up of Kingsville town council members a short time later.
“Chuck has been a wealth of knowledge with training and services,” explained Leamington mayor John Paterson. “We’re losing some serious professionalism with his departure. Fortunately, we have a wonderful group of part time firefighters in this town, so we’re not worried.”
Prior to Parsons submitting his resignation, the municipality has made plans to hire a consultant to review the management component of Leamington Fire Services.
“With Chuck leaving, we’re happy that this (hiring a consultant to review LFS management) will come up right away,” Paterson explained. “Finding a replacement is something that has to be done immediately.”
A replacement for Parsons will be selected by a committee consisting of CAO Peter Neufeld, a representative of the municipality’s human resources department and one or more members of council. Neufeld has already been in contact with the Fire Chiefs of Ontario Association, which may offer advice to the hiring committee on the process of selecting a new chief. In the meantime, an interim LFS chief will be appointed in the near future.
Looking back over the past 16 years in Leamington, Parsons recalls several incidents that he expects will remain as vivid memories for years to come. He described the most significant events as the tornado that struck Leamington in 2010, the fire that destroyed The Sunset Club (former Village Inn) in 2012 and the gas leak from a well on Robson Road that has garnered the attention of LFS personnel for the past five months.
“Everything from big to small, there’s been a lot for me to remember here in Leamington,” Parsons said. “Hopefully, the VI fire will be the biggest that I’ll ever have had to deal with.”
Parsons, at the age of 50, plans to continue serving the Leamington area in other capacities. He will continue to support the community as a member of the Leamington Rotary Club as well as offering his time with the Christmas Parade committee.