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Saanich deputy fire chief celebrates his retirement after a 35-year career

Frank Macdonald began his career in 1988 and had been with the Saanich Fire Department since 1996
Saanich Fire Deputy Chief Frank Macdonald (left) and Chief Mike Burgess celebrate the latter’s retirement on Sept. 29. (Photo courtesy of Mike Burgess)

Saanich Deputy Fire Chief Frank Macdonald celebrated the last day of his 35-year career on Sept. 29, entering his retirement having achieved many accolades and accomplishments.

Macdonald began his career in the fire service in 1993 with the District of North Vancouver Fire Department. Before then, he spent six seasons fighting wildland fires for the BC Forest Service program from 1988 to 1993 while he was a student at the University of Victoria.

In 1996 he moved back to Vancouver Island to work for the Saanich Fire Department where he would stay for the next 25 years.

During his time in Saanich, he has served in many roles including emergency program manager, fire prevention officer, firefighter, and finally, deputy chief for administration and operation.

Macdonald became the deputy chief of administration and the municipal emergency program coordinator in 2008.

When asked what he feels most proud of throughout his career, a modest Macdonald strongly emphasized how proud he is of the department and everyone in it.

He noted how progressive their operations have become over the years and how dedicated they are to inclusion and diversity, being the department with the largest number of female members on the Island.

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“We’ve also been changing the culture in Saanich about being more progressive about activating our emergency operations centre,” Macdonald said.

Prior to working closely with the emergency operations centre, Macdonald said it was more daunting to those in the department.

While Macdonald said the thought of activating emergency operations centres can be daunting, there have been significant improvements to make operations smoother. The centres are activated in the event of a disaster or the threat of one – for example, they were activated locally during the tsunami warning in 2018.

Macdonald said his colleague, Fire Chief Mike Burgess, helped build the Saanich team that is second to none and is grateful to have worked so closely with Burgess over the years.

He also wanted to acknowledge the positive relationship the Saanich Fire Department has with the Saanich Police Department and commends the positive rapport that exists between the departments – a rapport he hasn’t seen personally in many other places.

“The bonds people have in uniform are so strong – and retirement is going to be a big transition,” said an emotional Macdonald as he recounted his many years in the service and the lifelong friends he made along the way.

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