The Huntsville Lake of Bays (HLOB) Fire Department is saying goodbye to its longtime Fire Prevention Officer (FPO) and Fire Inspector.
Mike Vadlja’s last day on the job is Sept. 30, after 10 years in the role. He will start his new remote position as FPO for the City of Orillia on Oct. 3, and Huntsville will soon start hiring to fill his shoes.
Vadlja has been with the department since January of 2000, when he joined as a volunteer firefighter. He also served as Huntsville’s Community Emergency Management Coordinator, which will now be taken on by HLOB Fire Chief Gary Monaghan.
Vadlja says he’ll remain a volunteer firefighter for the Port Sydney Fire Hall, and will continue to measure water levels for the town, as it’s a passion project of his. He says 2013’s significant flooding in Huntsville has stuck with him.
“I don’t know if I’d recall it fondly, but the 2013 flooding was something that, no pun intended, I kind of dove into,” says Vadlja. “As bad as it was, it did bring our control group together very well, and we learned a lot from that.”
He says he’s also proud of his work as FPO, particularly the department’s public safety campaigns. That includes the Get Alarmed campaign, which has firefighters go door to door to educate, and provide fire and carbon monoxide alarms to residents.
“On the prevention side of things, bringing it to where it is, a lot of the volunteers have embraced that fire prevention message and that’s something to be proud of for sure,” says Vadlja.
Tarmo Uukkivi, Huntsville’s Director of Operations and Protective Services, announced Vadlja’s departure at September’s Regular Council meeting, recognizing him for his years of service.
“He’s been a big part of making the Town of Huntsville a lot safer, and what it is today,” Uukkivi said in an interview.
Vadlja says he’ll miss working for the town, but hopes to make a good impact in Orillia.
“I enjoyed the time working here in Huntsville, and I just hope they continue to practice that fire safety. Hopefully we’ve made that message clear,” says Vadlja. “And hopefully I’ll see people around [town], for sure.”