Huntsville is welcoming a new fire chief to the community.

Rob Collins, who comes from the Blue Mountain area, is assuming the position for Steve Hernen – who’s led the department for the last 23 years.

Collins was introduced at Huntsville’s last council meeting on September 28.

As an experienced firefighting veteran, he feels he brings a lot to the Department in Huntsville/Lake of Bays.

“Having worked in a number of different departments, I’ve seen different cultures and different ways of doing things and sort of have taken and picked the best of each experience and being able to roll it into a vision for one great fire department – that’s what I bring I feel,” Collins said.

Collins began as a volunteer firefighter in 1991, working his way up the ranks to become fire chief in areas like Port Hope and Blue Mountain.

He says that volunteer experience has given him a unique perspective.

“Over my career, I’ve developed the ability to work with both sides of the coin – volunteers and professional firefighters. I have a lot of respect for those who work as professionals somewhere and then they come and volunteers with us. I feel that’s a really undervalued commodity and it will help me here.”

Collins’ arrival comes just before Fire Prevention Week, which is being held from October 4-10.

Collins says in his mind, fire prevention is the number one priority for the community.

“We have pretty good capability here in terms of suppressing fires but in order to take the next step and make the community more fire-safe, it requires a real focus on fire prevention and I think that’s a priority I will be working towards in the coming years.”

The hiring of Collins also allows Hernen to focus on his other responsibilities, including his role as the town’s Director of Operations and Protective Services.