by Edith Cody-Rice

Art BrownMississippi Mills Fire Chief Art Brown, profiled in the Millstone August 1, 2013,  has announced his retirement after 45 years of service to Mississippi Mills. He handed his letter of resignation to the town in early January and it was brought before council for the January 28, 2014 meeting. The Millstone asked Art what made him choose this time for retirement. He stated that he just thought it was time. At 68, he wants to relax more and after consultation with his wife, Diane and his two daughters, he took the plunge. He intends to enjoy life and has already been approached about helping out some friends.

Art stated that his special memories of the fire department revolve around the people he has met and the lasting friendships that he has developed. He believes that every person is put on this earth for a reason and he was meant to help people, a task he thoroughly enjoys.

Art’s resignation will take effect June 27, 2014. This will give Council time to interview and hire another fire chief and will provide that new chief with a few months to orient himself or herself before budget time. Art realizes that 2014 being an election year, the town clerk will be too busy to give the new chief a great deal of attention.

Asked whether a woman might be considered for the job, Art stated that the best qualified person would win the position. Qualifications include graduate credentials from the fire college in Gravenhurst where students are taught every aspect of fire fighting. He anticipates that the new fire chief will be very busy, given new regulations that will result from the tragic blaze in the seniors’ home at   l’Île Verte. There will be increased review of equipment updates in institutions and evacuation practices will need to be conducted. If an evacuation cannot be accomplished in a specified time, the fire chief or fire prevention officer will not sign off on the fire safety plan.

Art states that one of the most memorable events of his career was the day  the fire department implemented pagers and a radio system. Until then, the fire chief would receive at paper note at the Old Town Hall  with the location of a fire marked on it (the fire trucks were located behind the OTH at that time). A siren would be sounded from the top of the building signaling volunteer fire fighters to congregate there and follow the truck to the fire. If you didn’t follow closely, you could find yourself lost.

Art thanks the community of Mississippi Mills for its support and says it has been an honour to serve the residents. He is proud of his department which has grown from 13 members when he joined to 30 trained firefighters today. He wishes the best of luck to the next person to occupy the position of fire chief.