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Rob Nichol is the chief of the Saint John Fire Department. Image: Submitted

Saint John welcomes new fire chief

By Brad Perry Feb 8, 2024 | 1:43 PM

The City of Saint John has a new fire chief, but he is no stranger to the organization.

Rob Nichol was named to the position after former chief Kevin Clifford retired in January.

“It’s a big portfolio and a huge responsibility, but it’s encouraging to have the professional staff,” Nichol said in an interview.

“It’s an honour to work alongside such a professional and caring team with the department.”

Nichol spent 17 years as a firefighter with the department before joining its management team.

He has spent time as an administrative officer, division chief of training and, most recently, deputy chief.

The new chief said succession planning will be a big priority for him as he helps develop the department’s future leaders.

“There are so many talented people with a lot of great leadership abilities and skills, and it’s really encouraging to see people develop as they prepare to take on larger roles and be able to make an impact on the fire service,” said Nichol.

Nichol said another big priority for him is a refresh of the department’s mission, vision and value statements.

It is important for any company, he said, to ensure what it is striving for and doing is meeting the community’s needs.

“With the growth in Saint John and really our diverse makeup within the city, we want to ensure that we are providing the best service for the citizens of Saint John,” said Nichol.

Nichol said the recent fire service review, released in late 2023, will help guide the department in setting its priorities.

He noted a lot of good things came from the review, including the greater focus on fire prevention and education.

“If you look at fire services across North America, you’re seeing that very same trend where response is incredibly important, but also we need to play an active role in preventing those fires and helping the community understand what they can do to prevent fires and to keep safe.”