New Central Manitoulin fire chief dons the mantle

New Central Manitoulin Fire Chief Philip Gosse.

CENTRAL MANITOULIN – A motion at Central Manitoulin council made it official, Philip Gosse is the new municipal fire chief.

“I have big shoes to fill,” said Mr. Gosse when contacted by The Expositor in his new office. “John (former fire chief the late John Reid) was a great guy; easy to talk to, I hope to do right by him.”

Mr. Gosse has been on the Central Manitoulin fire team since 2009, but he was quick to point out that, despite the officer training courses he has taken, “there are a lot of guys with more experience than me, some of them with 20-plus years. They help me out. A fire chief is only as good as the people under him.”

While the Municipality of Central Manitoulin already has around 30 members spread across four fire halls in the community, several new members were added to the roster during the council meeting.

Joining the team are six new members following a motion moved by Councillor Dale Scott and seconded by Councillor Al Tribinevicius. Those new members are: Kris Thorpe, Lori Ann McAnsh, Shawn McLennan, Zachary Meeker, Benjamin MacDonald and Dustin Nicklasson. Jeff Wilson is the deputy chief.

“It is nice to see so many people volunteer for their community,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. It was a sentiment heartily seconded by Councillor Tribinevicius.

Councillor Scott questioned whether the new chief has received specialized training.

“Phil has lots of training,” assured CAO Ruth Frawley. “Our acting fire chief felt he had plenty of training. He is certainly qualified.”

Ms. Frawley also noted that the municipality has funding in its budget for any additional training that might be required going forward.

Councillor Steve Shaffer asked if there are benchmarks for the new fire chief to meet. Ms. Frawley replied that she normally has benchmarks set for staff she has hired and as for training, “when I hire someone, I know if they need more.” She added that any appointment is for a six month trial.

“I think Phil will do a great job,” said Councillor Stephens.

Councillor Stephens noted that the acting fire chief (Perry Keller), who was filling in while the candidate search was underway, had been extremely helpful during that process.

“He came out of retirement to help out, he didn’t have to do that,” said Councillor Stephens, who also noted that deputy chief Wilson was also very helpful and supportive during the process.