A longtime Richmond firefighter is taking on one of the top jobs in New Westminster Fire and Rescue Service.
Jim Wishlove has been hired as an assistant deputy fire chief in New Westminster, following a 23-year career for Richmond Fire and Rescue Service. In Richmond, Wishlove has served as a firefighter, company officer, training officer and deputy chief of fire prevention and staff development (a position he's held since 2009).
"We were really looking for some exemplary management experience to fit that position. Jim definitely fits the bill," said New Westminster Fire Chief Tim Armstrong. "He has had three yeas as an exempt chief and three years as a training officer."
Armstrong said Wishlove will make a strong addition to the New Westminster Fire and Rescue Service's management team. He'll start his new job after Labour Day.
"He brings a lot of skill sets that will really enhance the city's management team," he said. "He is a top calibre candidate. We were lucky to get him."
According to Armstrong, Wishlove has extensive training and certification from the Justice Institute of British Columbia and the Sauder School of Business, a certificate in local government and administration. He has an associate certificate in leadership from BCIT, has completed the City of Richmond's Corporate University program and holds certification in various fire-related training.
"He was responsible for overseeing all aspects of training with Richmond Fire, both as a training officer and currently as deputy chief," said an announcement from Armstrong. "He has won numerous awards for his work in leadership and management, including the Martin Luther King Memorial Award for positivity in team leadership, and the Richmond Corporate University award of distinction for leadership excellence."
In New Westminster, Wishlove will be doing all aspects of management within the department, with specific emphasis on training, staff development and fire prevention.
Armstrong said the City of New Westminster had about 40 candidates for the job from across Canada, including Toronto and Calgary.
"It says a lot for New Westminster," he said. "There are a lot of people looking to New Westminster as a nice place to settle."
Several internal applicants also applied for the assistant deputy fire chief's position, which is a management position that will fall under two deputy chiefs (John Hatch and Brent Wisheart). Like Armstrong (2009) and Hatch (2010), who both honed their skills in Vancouver, Wishlove is the third senior position in New Westminster Fire and Rescue to go to an applicant from outside the department in recent years. (Deputy chief Brent Wisheart worked his way up through the New Westminster fire department.)
Armstrong told The Record he'd like to give local firefighters the tools to take over these top positions in the department, but they need more training in the administrative and human resources side of the job.
He said he developed a succession plan last year that would have allowed firefighters to work toward a business degree at BCIT (with the city picking up the cost of courses).
"We did post for it," he said. "We didn't have any internal applicants. The union was concerned. - We tried to work through them. We weren't successful."
Armstrong said that doesn't mean internal applicants won't be able to move into senior management positions in the department, but it could make it harder to compete with candidates from other departments. He said he's still hopeful internal applicants will seek to gain the skills that will allow them to rise through the ranks.
"There is a lot more movement around the Lower Mainland and the province," he said. "The candidates applying for these jobs are well prepared with degrees. It really needs to serve as a reminder as how important it is to continue your education throughout your career.
Gord Denhoed, vice-president of Local 256 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the New Westminster firefighters' union is 100 per cent behind efforts to help internal candidates move up into management positions, and is disappointed that hasn't been happening.
"We in the union are very supportive of internal candidates ready for exempt positions," he said, adding the right structure has to be in place for that program. "There are some details that would need to be finalized before a program could move forward and be successful."
Denhoed believes the fire department has lots of internal candidates who could move into entry-level management positions, as this position was originally proposed.
"The chief has some good ideas as far as that (succession) program," he said. "We have always said we support the concept 100 per cent. We never told our members not to apply. The membership made that decision on their own."
Denhoed said he brings a lot of experience to the job in New Westminster..