The Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department has a new chief leading the ranks.
Michelle Meeker, who has been assistant chief of the VFD for just over three years, was named as the new chief last week. Meeker takes the reins from Shannon Wagner who had been leading the volunteer brigade for the past three years.
“Shannon and I have been a pretty good team the past three years, so I don’t see it as being a whole lot different,” Meeker told the Free Press.
With a long career in firefighting and fire prevention under her belt, Meeker brings a wealth of knowledge to the job as fire chief.
She first volunteered for Mission Fire Rescue in 1995, where she worked her way up to district chief at Hall 2 in Stave Falls.
“During that time I also started on the career side as a fire inspector, and finished my career as a fire-prevention officer before retiring in 2018,” Meeker said.
Relocating to the South Cariboo that same year presented an opportunity for Meeker to jump back into firefighting at the volunteer level, something she said she missed in the later years of her career in Mission.
“Getting back into the volunteer ranks has been the best,” she said. “It’s your neighbours, it’s your community. You end up being a tight little team.”
Meeker said she will continue to focus efforts on FireSmart awareness throughout the community, especially after witnessing the wildfire risk first-hand in the South Cariboo last summer.
Promoting the use of working smoke detectors and the importance of homeowners cleaning out gutters and yards, and keeping trees and other materials away from their homes are a few of the key messages Meeker will continue to promote.
The volunteer fire department is always looking for new recruits, Meeker said, especially as spring and summer arrive and current members may be out of town on vacation.
“There are so many ways people can help, they don’t have to be hanging on the end of a hose,” she explained. “We need drivers, and maintenance work done on our tools. There are lots of ways people can help.”
Weekly practice takes place on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at Hall 1 (in Forest Grove) and anyone who is interested is welcome to check it out.
“It can be a little intimating, but if they can come down and get to know a few people, that usually helps.”