Familiar face chosen as new fire chief in BV

Eganville – A familiar face is returning to the Bonnechere Valley Fire Department, although in a new role of fire chief.

Bonnechere Valley council has agreed to appoint Darryl Wagner, the township Chief Building Official (CBO) and current By-Law Enforcement Officer, to the position. The announcement was made during a committee meeting of council on Tuesday afternoon, although the formal by-law appointing him will not be approved until the next meeting of council in early March.

“Darryl is well known by our community and firefighters,” noted Mayor Jennifer Murphy.

The mayor said there had been interest by other area municipalities in possibly sharing a fire chief, however, for right now this is the best move for the community. Mr. Wagner is already employed in the community and brings experience not only with the BV Fire Department in the past but was also the fire chief at Greater Madawaska (GM) where he was also the CBO before coming to BV. This does not mean BV is not open to having a joint fire chief with another municipality in the future, but for now this is a great fit, she noted.

“When we get to sharing services, it will be a fulltime job,” noted Councillor Merv Buckwald.

CAO Annette Gilchrist gave a little bit of background information on the recruitment process. In her report to council, she said there were five applicants, but none were deemed a good fit for the township.

“We discussed other options such as a joint chief position with a neighbouring township to make the position full time and I met with some local CAOs to have this discussion,” she added.

While the names of those municipalities had to stay confidential, Mrs. Gilchrist did say there was openness to having a joint fire chief with another municipality.

While this was happening, Mr. Wagner approached her regarding the position and the idea of having the CBO and fire chief position in BV as a dual role.

“We did discuss that to include By-Law Enforcement duties in this role would be too much for one person,” she stated in her report.

Finding a new by-law officer or contracting the service out would be the easier solution, she told council.

“It is probably the smallest piece of the puzzle and the easiest to replace,” she remarked.

The new fire chief will take over on March 11 and current Chief Dave Murphy’s last day will be March 10.

“I want to thank Chief Murphy for his many years of service,” Mrs. Gilchrist said. “Over 20 years in the Fire Service, Chief Murphy has agreed to assist through the budget, for Canada Day and other areas if needed. He has shown incredible leadership and community spirit.”

Further recognition will be arranged in the future, she said, noting his last council meeting would be March 7.

Mr. Wagner, who lives in Eganville with his wife Kim, has called the village home since 1998. He was a member of the BV Fire Department for 15 years and was deputy chief before the accepted the position in GM in 2015. He became the CBO and By-Law Enforcement Officer for BV in March, 2022.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader