New Blyth Fire Chief hopes to bring college programs to ESTC - Aug. 24, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Fire Department of North Huron (FDNH) Chief Ryan Ladner has brought some very specific and applicable experience to his first six months as head of the fire department and principal of the Emergency Services Training Centre.
Ladner was appointed to the position in March after North Huron Township Council, staff and a consulting firm conducted an exhaustive search for former FDNH Chief David Sparling, who left the position and now works at his family business Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company.
With nine years in the military, which included time as a teacher, and 15 years experience in firefighting, including leading training at the Mississauga Fire Department, Ladner had the experience in instruction that North Huron wanted.
“I’ve done both firefighting and training,” Ladner said. “My last three or four years in Mississauga I spent time training as well as being on the fire trucks.”
Ladner originally studied at Lansing College for firefighting but transfered to Humber College to finish his diploma. He then was hired onto the Erin Fire Department before being hired by the Mississauga Fire Department.
Ladner said North Huron offered a unique opportunity to ply his two experiences and bring success to the ESTC.
“I saw a huge opportunity with the ESTC,” he said. “With my background in training and program design, I felt I could make a difference. I had a lot of success training at Humber College and saw the ESTC needed some new work and new blood and thought I could bring that.”
Ladner hit the ground running, starting with an in-depth analysis of an operational review of the ESTC. Within a few months, Ladner brought forward one of the most significant changes he plans for the ESTC – hiring an individual whose primary position will be to recruit business for the ESTC.
“Most of the significant changes have been with the ESTC,” he said. “The fire department is a really competent group of people and I let them do their own thing. I haven’t had to interfere with them because they know what they’re doing.
“With the ESTC, we replaced the fire prevention officer with a part-time officer and are hiring someone to be the principal of the ESTC as well as deputy-chief,” he said. “Their main job will be to recruit business to the ESTC. A candidate has been selected and will be announced at a later date.”
Ladner said he sees a lot of opportunity at the ESTC, and he wants to make sure someone is in place to capitalize on those opportunities.
“The ESTC has the potential to be a huge revenue generator for the township,” he said. “It’s state of the art and has lots of room, we just have to bring the people there to fill the classrooms.”
Ladner said bringing more people in is a goal being actively pursued with time already set aside to meet with a private company for a marine firefighting program and hopes of making the ESTC a location that offers firefighter certification.
“Our number one goal at the ESTC is to bring the career college program there,” he said. “What that means is a four-month boot camp where people come to be certified as firefighters. That’s a huge revenue-generating opportunity.”
He said the program is a Monday-to-Friday program running eight hours a day for that four-month period, which will result in a significant increase in the number of people visiting the village of Blyth.
Ladner said there is an approximate eight-month wait to clear the program with the government and said, currently, the training calendar is open right now.
“I’m hoping we can get a 50 per cent increase in the amount of training in the first 12 months, and then, if the career college program gets going, we will be in a good place,” he said. “If we can fill that career program, we will be making money in a few years.”
Aside from helping the ESTC to recognize its potential, Ladner said the biggest challenges he has run into is getting to know the people in the area.
“I’m from a small town, just like Blyth and Wingham,” he said, explaining he is from Hillsburgh in the Town of Erin. “It can take awhile to get to know everyone. I have 42 volunteer firefighters to get on a first-name basis with.”
He said, beyond getting to know the firefighters, another challenge is getting used to work withing them.
“It can be hard when a new chief comes in,” he said. “No one knows what is expected. I could be drastically different from the previous chief and no one knows what’s around the corner. It makes for an interesting dynamic.”