100 Mile Fire Rescue Chief Roger Hollander is trading in one fire department for 14.
At the end of the month, Hollander will be handing the fire chief helmet to the current deputy chief, Dave Bissat. Hollander is leaving to become the Cariboo Regional District’s new regional fire chief.
“Part of the regional fire chief portfolio is all 14 CRD fire departments. There are 80,000 square kilometers in the CRD, that’s bigger than some European countries, and there’s a large cadre of over 300 volunteer firefighters covering it,” Hollander said. “I’m looking to help do some relationship building between those 14 fire departments and the CRD.”
Thanks to spending eight years in 100 Mile House and nine before that as a volunteer with the Lac La Hache Volunteer Fire Department, Hollander said he is in a unique position to liaise with departments. Proper training has been a key focus throughout his career and he plans to help the CRD’s departments achieve the standards set out by the Office of the Fire Commissioner.
“I’m there to support them rather than working against them, so I really hope I can establish that,” he said.
Hollander starts his new role in October with his last day at the 100 Mile fire hall set for Sept. 29. Bissat said while he wishes Hollander could have stuck around for a little while longer, he’s excited to be taking on the role of fire chief. He’s spent the last few weeks cross-training and preparing for the role.
“It’s more of a challenge and there’s lots to do,” Bissat remarked. “I like being out in the public, helping people and solving problems.”
Born and raised in the Cariboo, Bissat has been a member of 100 Mile Fire Rescue for 13 years, spending the last two as deputy fire chief. As chief, he plans to maintain the department’s training standards and spirit of camaraderie.
“We’ve got a great group of guys and gals here who spend a lot of time training. They keep me busy,” Bissat said.
Asked to sum up the last eight years as chief in one word, Hollander said: busy. Since he started in 2015, Hollander has watched the department’s call volume increase from 365 calls a year to well past 500 in recent years.
In response, he has done his best to secure the department the resources it needs to meet this call volume. This included the creation of the full-time deputy fire chief position in 2016 to work with the paid on-call team and the purchase of new fire trucks and equipment.
Hollander said that the department is in need of a third full-time position and he’s hopeful that the District of 100 Mile House will be able to provide that in the near future. In the meantime, he’s confident Bissat will be able to take over.
“Teamwork and team integrity is a big thing for me in my leadership style, so hopefully I left the fire department with those team dynamics,” Hollander said. “I hope that stays for many years to come.”
The District of 100 Mile House is currently looking for a new deputy fire chief to replace Bissat and new paid-on-call firefighters. Applicants are invited to reach out to Bissat at 250-395-2152.