“I guess fire is in the blood.”
And that’s how Grand Forks’ new fire chief described his decision to come out of retirement, and head the city’s department.
Jim Runciman, 56, has spent his life in firefighting. He served with a department in Maple Grove, Quebec, for more than 20 years, and then was director of fire services, and chief, in Greenstone, Ontario. During that time he orchestrated the amalgamation of five fire departments and 100 firefighters.
After his retirement he moved to Nelson, but was drawn back into the life by Grand Forks’ need for a new chief.
According to Grand Forks CAO Duncan Redfearn the city’s recruitment process was “robust,” and there were more than 20 applicants for the position.
Runciman will assume his full time duties at the end of the month, and in the meantime he’s getting to know the community and looking for housing.
His first priority is recruitment, he said.
“We are rebuilding the department. We are low on daytime staff. We’ve got a few ideas in place to recruit some volunteers. Definitely we are going to concentrate on recruitment and retention, to try to get the numbers up where they should be.”
Currently there are approximately 40 city firefighters working out of three stations.
“I’d like to see us somewhere up between 65 and 70.”
Runciman is pleased with his reception in Grand Forks, and appreciative of the support he’s received so far.
“Everybody that I’ve met has been very nice and really keen. I’ve had a couple of people talk to me about their goals (for the department) in the future.”