New Vanderhoof fire chief Joe Pacheco has been fighting fires since the age of 16, but at that age it never occurred to him that it might end up being a long-term career.
In fact, Pacheco only joined the Fraser Lake fire department as a volunteer as a trade off to get him a weekend job at the local saw mill.
“I wanted a weekend job at the local saw mill so I went and spoke to … the superintendent there who also happened to be the fire chief.”
“He said ‘I’ll tell you what – you join the fire department as a volunteer and I’ll get you a job at the saw mill’ – so I did,” said Pacheco.
After completing Grade 12 in Fraser Lake, Pacheco worked full-time at the mill for the summer, but after hearing talk of a strike there, he headed down to the village office to inquire about work.
Since then Pacheco has spend 31 years working with the municipality in a number of different roles, including working at the arena and other village maintenance positions.
Meanwhile he developed a love for the fire department and worked his way up through the ranks, finally making it to the fire chief’s position after seven years of working with the village.
So why Vanderhoof?
“I’ve always been interested in the position and I needed a change,” he said.
“It’s just more of a challenge and I needed something new to do.”
Pacheco says the last five weeks have been extremely enjoyable and he won’t be making many changes because the fire department is already so well structured.
“I like the way it’s set up and I’m not planning any new changes – the department is run very well and you don’t want to change anything that is working well,” he said.
“We have 34 great volunteers here who are all very dedicated – Vanderhoof should be proud of the department that they have and you can tell by the great work that they do.”
The new position sure has him busy, since the fire chief in Vanderhoof also wears the hats of emergency coordinator, by-law officer and animal control.
“The day goes by really fast because there’s all kind of things happening in the municipality that I partake in,” he said.