Whitney appointed as new Melfort Fire Chief

Last week the City of Melfort announced the appointment of Leonard Whitney as the new Fire Chief, effective April 1.

Whitney has18 years of service with the Melfort Fire Department and said he’s eager to start in his new role.

“With all my years with the Melfort Fire Department, of course it's something that I'm passionate about,” Whitney said. “(I) kind of worked my way through the ranks from recruit right up to captain at the moment and so either deputy chief or chief were the next Steps for me.”

Whitney said he became a firefighter as a way of doing public service.

"I Just wanted to give back to our community and that was the way that I thought I could do that and of course, being a firefighter is kind of exciting at times as well,” he explained.

Whitney’s Deputy Chief is longtime Melfort firefighter Doug Walsh, who is currently acting as interim Fire Chief after former Chief Shaun Stewart was let go in 2023.

The City of Melfort has not addressed why Stewart was let go from the position.

Previous fire chiefs in Melfort include John McDonald, who was the first full time fire chief, former Prince Albert Fire Chief Jason Everitt and current Buckland Fire and Rescue Chief Paul See.

"We have got an excellent leadership crew with the captains, like (Graham) Calow and Randy Martin, and Doug Walsh, he's coming up 40 years, I believe, in the service with the fire department, that's incredible,” Whitney said. In the City of Melfort’s press release, Whitney said that he takes great pride in being the leader of the organization and has enjoyed his time as facility manager for the City.

"I look forward to working collaboratively with the city administration, emergency services, and the community to ensure a safer and stronger future for all,” he said.

Whitney explained that the April 1 starting date was to help in the transition from his current position as facility manager.

"I don't want to leave my facilities position without having some stuff tied up,” Whitney said.

The City said in their press release that Whitney’s wealth of experience uniquely positions him to lead the Melfort Fire Department into its next chapter.

“Chief Whitney has exhibited exceptional leadership qualities, a deep understanding of firefighting strategies, and a relentless dedication to training and professional development,” reads the press release. “His leadership will undoubtedly inspire and empower our team of firefighters as they continue to serve and protect the residents of Melfort.”

The City of Melfort extended its heartfelt congratulations to Whitney on his well-deserved appointment as Fire Chief.

"I just look forward to taking that next step in my fire career and looking forward to doing the best I can to keep up the high level of standard that's been set by our chiefs in the past,” Whitney said. “I am looking forward to it.”

michael.oleksyn@paherald.sk.ca

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald