Village of Thorsby Chief Administrative Officer Jason Gariepy announced that Nicholas Maryka, a Thorsby resident and seven-year member of the Thorsby Fire Department, has been selected as Interim Fire Chief.
“Maryka brings paid and volunteer firefighting experience, energy, and an openness to work with the Village of Thorsby and the County of Leduc as Interim Fire Chief,” says Gariepy. “He wants the department to continue to be volunteer-based, focused on partnerships, and providing the highest level of service to Thorsby and the District.”
Nicholas Maryka was raised in Thorsby and grew up admiring firefighters. Maryka continues his family’s rich tradition of serving Thorsby as his father, William, is a former volunteer Fire Chief.
Maryka was trained at the Vermillion Fire School in 2009, has been a volunteer firefighter in Thorsby since 2007, has taken numerous firefighting courses with the County of Leduc, and has worked in northern Alberta on emergency response teams.
“My goal is to make it the best department it can be,” says Maryka. “My first step is to reach out to the community as well as my colleagues on the fire department and ask them to put management issues aside so we can protect and serve the community.” Maryka believes the Village has a number of responsibilities to the fire department and is going to strongly advocate and participate in management meetings to state his case, such as having the department’s 2014 budget fully reinstated and not impacted by the Leduc Fire Department providing services in February. “Previously, firefighters received an honorarium annually for service. As Interim Fire Chief, I would like to change it to monthly payments,” says Maryka.
Thorsby CAO Jason Gariepy and Leduc County Fire Chief, Darrell Fleming screened applicants for the Interim Fire Chief position. “This is a three-way partnership now between the Village, Leduc County, the volunteer firefighters,” says Gariepy.
The position will be on an interim basis until Maryka completes a 6-month period as Fire Chief. At that point, a performance review will take place involving the Thorsby CAO, Leduc County, and members of the volunteer fire department.
As Interim Fire Chief, Maryka will be responsible for selecting and appointing all fire department officers. He has the authority to reinstate firefighters who resigned from the department.
“The volunteer firefighters provided an extensive 16-point list of requests,” says Gariepy. “I will work with the new Interim Fire Chief to understand these concerns and discuss how we can move forward.”
The Village of Thorsby expects the new Interim Fire Chief to implement the following guiding principles:
• Active participation by the Fire Chief at Village meetings, budgets, and to provide regular reports to Council.
• Succession planning.
• Mandatory Dry Fire Station (no alcohol unless a liquor permit is secured).
• Criminal record checks for all volunteer firefighters.
• No direct reporting relationship between the Fire Chief and direct relatives.
“I am excited to see a lifelong resident take this opportunity. There is no question he will be challenged to rebuild the department. The Village and the County of Leduc will do what we can to support him,” adds Gariepy.
The Contingency Response Plan continues to be in effect as the Interim Fire Chief transitions into his position.