For the Lakeside Leader
John McDermott has come full circle as the new fire chief for Big Lakes County.
“This area is home for me,” says McDermott, who previously served as deputy fire chief for the Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Service.
Born, raised and schooled in High Prairie, he is passionate about promoting partnerships.
“I’m a big fan of working together, making sure we are able to provide a reliable service effectively,” says McDermott, who has 18 years’ experience in emergency services along with 13 years of emergency medical services.
“I want to create opportunities to work together with High Prairie, Swan Hills and neighbouring municipalities, from training, information and education to operations.”
McDermott is also committed to sharing services with other communities – a process that has already started.
“We want to complete more mutual-aid agreements with First Nations in the region,” he says.
Regional efforts have been McDermott’s focus since his career in fire services started in 2000 with the LSLRFS in Slave Lake. He subsequently served in leadership roles for the regional services in the M.D. of Smoky River, based in Falher. Before all that he was a volunteer firefighter in High Prairie for five years.
Overall, McDermott oversees all aspects of fire and rescue services in the county, which includes halls in the hamlets of Enilda, Faust, Grouard, Joussard and Kinuso.
“I want to be accessible with opportunities so it will benefit our firefighters who have committed to serve our communities in fire service,” he says.
Recruiting firefighters will be another priority for the new chief, who started on Jan. 3. He will also be involved in planning and providing services for emergency management.
McDermott has been educated and certified as a professional firefighter, haz-mat operator, fire service instructor and fire investigator. He has extensive experience in operational firefighting, command, formal instruction and fire origin and cause investigations, including evidence collection. He is certified by the International Association of Arson Investigators and is a trained wildfire investigator. He’s also the president of the Fire Investigation Association of Alberta.