The community was on-hand Thursday (Dec. 19) to officially welcome new Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood to the job, while bidding farewell to retiring chief Rob Whitton after 11 years in the resort.
The Change of Command Ceremony was held at Fire Hall 1 and was open to the public. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was there to welcome Kirkwood to the position and congratulate Whitton on his retirement after 25 years in public service.
"I would like to thank Fire Chief Rob Whitton for his years of service,” she said at the ceremony, which also included remarks by RMOW and senior Whistler Fire Rescue Service members. “Please join me in wishing Rob continued success, and welcoming newly appointed Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood to her new role. Our community is lucky to have such dedicated and talented individuals contributing to matters of public safety.”
Kirkwood's career dates back to 1986, when she began volunteering as a firefighter in Whistler. In 1989 she became a career firefighter and inspector, the first female in B.C. to do so, and since then has served in a number of positions. She has been Whistler's assistant fire chief for 15 years, and was honoured for 25 years of service with the RMOW this year.
Whitton joined the Whistler Fire Rescue Service as assistant fire chief in 2002 after serving in Abbotsford for 15 years. He was promoted to fire chief in 2007. During his time in the resort, Whistler's fire department has grown significantly, with 14 career staff on duty and no floor officers when he was hired. Today, there are 21 career staff with a captain in charge of each shift.