Many things are coming down the pole at the Huntsville Lake of Bays (HLOB) Fire Department.
That’s according to its new Fire Chief, Gary Monahan, who says they’re heading in a good direction.
“The operations side is going to continue running well with Paul [Calleja] taking over as Deputy Chief. We’ve got the RTC (Regional Training Centre) that’s getting permission to continue on, and that’s going to be a good resource for all of Muskoka,” says Monahan. “And there’s the master plan finishing up for HLOB, going to be a lot of recommendations coming out of that. Lot of work that needs to be done, and [we’re] looking forward to moving this department forward.”
The RTC has been hosted at the department’s Port Sydney station since the decommissioning of the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst last year. Instructors from the Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) run provincial courses there, with Huntsville reimbursed for operational costs such as utilities.
Last week, the town’s General Committee signed off on continuing the RTC for the rest of its five-year term to 2026. Monahan says the OFM courses run in addition to the facility’s localized training for Muskoka’s fire departments.
The department’s Fire Services Master Plan went through community engagement last year, and is expected to come back to the town councils of Huntsville and Lake of Bays in the coming months.
Monahan adds that the department is doubling down on fire prevention efforts and education, and that they recently installed a signal repeater at a Lakeland tower in Baysville, which has improved their communications in the area.
As for this year’s recruitment drive for volunteer firefighters, Monahan says he couldn’t be more pleased.
“We had a great response. The main station downtown got a number of new members, and our other stations that have struggled over the years got a good number of recruits,” says Monahan. “So we are building our membership. It’s a good group of people, a good batch, and I’m looking forward to working with them.”
Monahan says of the more than 30 applications, about 13 made the cut and started their training last month with lessons in CPR and first aid.
“They’ll be slowly integrated into their fire stations, but they are starting to show up, and we will hopefully start to use them by the first of the summer,” says Monahan. “Using them in a support capacity until they’re fully trained, [which] will be completed by the end of 2022,” he clarifies.