After 36 years with Brandon’s Fire and Emergency Services (BFES), Brent Dane has retired as fire chief effective last Friday.
“As a dual fire/EMS service since 1917, I firmly believe that Brandon’s Fire and Emergency Services Department stands up to any other across Canada and, for me, being a firefighter in Brandon has been just the best job in the world,” Dane said in a City of Brandon press release announcing both his retirement and his replacement, former Deputy Chief Scott McDonald.
“Every day is something different. Every day is an adrenaline rush and every day people thank us for our service. I am also very fortunate to have spent my entire professional career in my home community of Brandon and am extremely proud to be retiring as a City of Brandon employee.”
Beginning in 1983, Dane spent 18 years moving through the ranks of Brandon’s fire department before being named deputy fire chief in 2001 and fire chief four years later. Among the various changes to BFES operations since the start of his career is a vast advancement in the qualifications of local firefighters. In the 1980s, staff members required basic first aid skills and a Class Four Drivers License. Today, firefighters provide pre-hospital patient care at emergency scenes that were once performed in an emergency room.
Dane was project manager during the construction of the No. 1 Fire Hall on 19th Street North, something he said was a highlight of his time as fire chief. He also noted the work of emergency service employees and other municipal staff for their work during the city’s historic floods of 2011 and 2014.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Brent over the years, not just in my current role, but through my entire career with the City of Brandon and I wish him nothing but the best in his retirement years,” said Brandon City Manager Rod Sage. “Equally, I look forward to working with Scott, as I believe this leadership skills and abilities are well-aligned with my vision for not only Brandon Fire and Emergency Services, but also for the (city) corporation’s wider vision of serving and building community.”
McDonald, Dane’s replacement, has 34 years of experience with BFES, beginning his career as a probationary firefighter in 1985. Like Dane, he moved through various supervisory roles before being named deputy chief in 2014.
“I am honored to be taking on the role of Brandon fire chief from my colleague, Brent, and am confident that my many years of service within BFES will serve me well as I begin the next chapter in my career,” McDonald said. “The department has such a strong staff and I’ve been fortunate to have so many opportunities for development, and I am very much looking forward to this next opportunity I’ve been given.”
One of McDonald’s first priorities will be overseeing a replacement for the deputy chief’s position and putting his management team in place. Changes are also expected in the roles and responsibilities BFES plays in provincial EMS services to ensure the city’s fire and EMS department remains sustainable.