New chief has long firefighting history in city

·2 min read

Marcel Capelle is the new chief at the Dawson Creek Fire Department.

Capelle, from Dawson Creek, brings 30 years of experience as both a volunteer and career firefighter.

The City of Dawson Creek announced his appointment in November, with Mayor Dale Bumstead and veteran fire department members Bob Fulton and Rob Huttema on hand.

Support from family, coworkers, and city council helped was a big factor in taking on the new role, Capelle says.

“I went into this career not ever even thinking I would go that route. I’ve been a captain the last ten years, and I really enjoyed being a captain, running a crew. It just kind of fell in place. But I look forward to the challenges, it’s a totally different career.”

Capelle volunteered with the department in the late 1980s, before officially taking a position as a firefighter in 1990. He says great teamwork and a sense of community is what kept him in Dawson Creek.

“Every day it’s something new. You never know two days, you never know what’s going to happen that day,” says Capelle. “And a good group of firefighters to work with. It’s a cliché you always hear from people, but it’s something I always wanted to do.”

Capelle says while training and tech has improved over the years, people still make the biggest difference in fighting fires.

“When I originally started, there were three on shift. If one was on holiday, so there’d be two on shift,” he says. “We’d have to dispatch on our own. When I first started you would go to fires by yourself, which was crazy. Now there’s four on shift, so we’re never going out the door with less than three.”

Capelle further added that firefighter safety and health has also become a huge focus in the profession, with testing for carcinogens, gear decontamination, and mental health debriefing.

“The biggest thing for me taking the job is that it’s a good group of people who work here. We’ve got such a good group of firefighters here.”

Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News