© Cheryl Little photo
Wabush Fire Chief Todd Canning is pictured here as he observes the jaws of life training exercise on May 30. Cheryl Little photo
SPECIAL TO THE AURORA
Like many young boys, Todd Canning often dreamed of driving a big bright red truck and saving lives and property.
Canning turned his dream into reality over two decades ago when he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Town of Wabush’s Volunteer Fire Department.
In 2008, he took over the role of volunteer fire chief – a job his father Ron Canning had held for over 20 years.
On May 27, Canning took anoth- er step forward when he spent his first day on the job as the town’s first paid full-time fire chief/inspec- tor.
“Dad used to take me to the fire department when I was a child and what little boy doesn’t want to be a firefighter when they grow up,” Canning said during a recent tele- phone interview.
Canning left his job as an electri- cian with Wabush Mines to begin his career with the town.
“This was something I was always interested in and it was time for a change.”
The job of fire chief/inspector is a full-time permanent manage- ment position with responsibilities for oversight and administration for the town’s volunteer fire depart- ment and fire inspection services. This position reports to the Town Manager.
According to the town's website (www.labradorwest.com) as fire chief, Canning is responsible for the coordination of the town’s fire and emergency services, for mentorship and support, for ensuring a proper training program is in place for fire- fighters (over 20 volunteers), for recruitment and retention of fire- fighters and for liaison within the fire department.
The firefighters protect the resi- dents and properties in the town and are also backup for the Town of Labrador City fire department.
During his first week on the job, Canning and several other firefight- ers from the town participated in Safety and Emergency Response Training (SERT) offered by Memori- al University’s Marine Institute. The
training has been ongoing for the past year, he says, and participants learn everything from vehicle extri- cation to high angle rescue.
Canning said he’s grateful that his former employer – Wabush Mines – is funding the ongoing training.
Canning says working full-time for the town means he no longer
has to juggle his job at the mines, his volunteer role with the fire department and his family. He has more time now to devote to his career and his family, he says.
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron says the town had been looking at hiring a full-time fire chief/inspector for about a year.
The town is growing, he said, and the position was necessary not only from a firefighting perceptive but for ensuring buildings are up to code.
Barron said he has “all the confi- dence in the world” in Canning and the entire team of volunteer fire- fighters.
From a liability perspective, he said, establishing the position is something the town should have done last year.
“If something ever happened and we hadn’t done our due dili- gence that would come back on the town. So we are making sure that doesn’t happen.”
Canning agrees with the mayor that the town is ready to respond to fires and other emergencies and that the firefighters are well trained to answer the call.
Whether in a volunteer or paid position, Canning said helping oth- ers brings with it a great deal of sat- isfaction.
“Every call we respond to we are helping people. We are making a difference to people’s lives and that’s very rewarding,” he said.