City appoints fire chief as emergency program coordinator

Emergency management portfolio temporarily handed to fire chief after city administrator overseeing it resigns

City of Revelstoke Fire Chief Rob Girard was appointed to run the city's emergency program on an interim basis starting Jan. 9.

City of Revelstoke Fire Chief Rob Girard was appointed to run the city's emergency program on an interim basis starting Jan. 9.

In an act of housekeeping following the resignation of the Director of Corporate Administration and Communications Lyle Huntley on Jan. 7, the City of Revelstoke has appointed Fire Chief Rob Girard as the interim Emergency Program Coordinator.

Huntley took over the role as overseer of the city’s emergency operation on Jan. 1 after the City of Revelstoke cancelled the contract held by Revelstoke resident Simon Hunt.

The switch from a contract service provider with extensive emergency management experience to a side-desk project by an administrator with unknown emergency management qualifications raised eyebrows.

The City of Revelstoke’s handling of an avalanche-driven Trans-Canada Highway closure just a few days later led to one report critical of the city’s handling of the many stranded travellers. Despite the relative predictability of a highway closure when a heavy, warm snowstorm is bearing down on Revelstoke in January, the city didn’t effectively communicate their emergency referral centre to stranded travellers.

In a Jan. 9 media release announcing Girard’s temporary appointment, city officials were careful to outline Girard’s track record in emergency management.

“I am honoured to fill the interim Emergency Program Coordinator (EPC) position,” Girard said in a statement. “Keeping our community safe and knowing we have the people who will make a difference when we activate our emergency operations will make future emergency events a success.”

In a statement, mayor David Raven vetted Girard: “As the EPC leader, I have complete faith in chief Girard based on my personal observations of his problem solving and decision making abilities. As our Fire Chief, he is doing this for the most part already.”

Girard takes over on an interim basis immediately.