After a week on the job, the City’s fire chief continues to settle into his new post.
Brian Makey recently relocated to Red Deer after spending 29 years in Fort McMurray to take on the position.
Makey has been a firefighter since he was 18 years old.
“After I graduated high school, I went right into firefighting,” he said, adding that his passion for the industry came at an early age, thanks to his father. “My father was a firefighter and he started at a young age as well. He moved onto the Alberta Fire Commissioner’s Office. He was director of the Alberta Fire Training School and he became the fire commissioner of Alberta.
“I grew up with it so it was a natural progression. It was in my blood. I have been chasing fire trucks since I was five-years-old and it’s really something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Makey spent the last 29 years of his career in Fort McMurray.
“My career first started in Sherwood Park. I started there as a firefighter and I worked there until 1986. Then I went to Fort McMurray where I joined as a firefighter and worked my way through the ranks as a lieutenant and captain, deputy chief and fire chief there as well.”
Makey then moved on to a more administrative role as the executive director of public safety.
“That included the fire department, the RCMP and bylaw under that portfolio,” he said, adding he then became the chief operating officer of the municipality. “The director levels of the departments reported to me and that was the last two years of my career. I did that to expand my growing and learning and it was a great opportunity.”
Makey has worked with the integrated system of fire and EMS like Red Deer has for many years as Fort McMurray and Sherwood Park both have similar models.
“All staff are trained both in fire and medical capabilities, which is really important and offers value to citizens. It provides top-notch protection in public safety,” he said. “It’s really with the mid-sized cities that this system flows and flourishes.
“This is the system I grew up in, so this integrated system is not new to me, which is a good thing.”
Makey said he’s had some great opportunities in his career that he is grateful for.
“Very early in my career I had the opportunity to be on the Alberta rescue team as part of the Mexico City earthquake,” he said. “I’ve had wonderful mentors over the years and I’ve been on the union executive. I got to meet other fire departments internationally and that was great.
“But really, it’s having the opportunities to be able to progress through the system and having people that believed in me and brought me through the system with them and gave me the chance to try out for something and make a difference.”
As for relocating to Red Deer, Makey said he is happy to be here.
“I always wanted to get back into the fire service, so when I was asked if I would take on this role outside of public protection and safety, I knew I wanted to do that,” he said. “Red Deer was always on my chart, along with a couple of other fire departments in western Canada. I knew a lot of the folks that work here, we have family around here and I’m from the Edmonton area. To me, when this opportunity came up, it was perfect, it was the right time and everything went great and I couldn’t be more pleased to be here.”
Looking ahead, Makey said he has come to the City at a good time.
“Right now the fire department is launching into a master planning process and I’m just learning and getting my head around that. Some great work has been done already but I am coming at the beginning stages of this and I feel like I have a lot to contribute to it,” he said. “I think there is great opportunity for our fire department and for the City of Red Deer. There is growth here and there is expansion and this is a really vibrant community.
“My focus right now is to build a relationship with the chief officer team, the second focus is to build that relationship with the union and then build my relationship with my peers. As we launch forward then we’ll get a good grip on where we want to go.”