With over three decades of experience in the fire service, Crossfield's new Fire Chief, Bill Messner, is no stranger to wearing the stripes on his shoulders. Messner who has been in his new role for three weeks previously served as Deputy Fire Chief in Crowsnest Pass. However, the 200-some-kilometre move North hasn't phased him in the least. 

"It's a great move for my family and a great move to serve the town of Crossfield," he said. "The people here are absolutely fantastic. We have an incredible group here that's dedicated to community service. They have been extremely helpful to me - to get settled in and help me get through the ins and outs of how the department works."

Chief Messner reflected that while Crowsnest Pass had a slightly larger population than Crossfield, Crossfield's Fire Department has what he has observed up until now a larger call volume, especially when it comes to medical calls. However, he did add that even though Crowsnest Pass may have had a larger population, density does play a role in call volume; especially when taking into account the fact that Crossfield has mutual aid agreements with its neighbours in Rocky View County, Carstairs, as well as Airdrie, to name a few. 

As he begins his leadership role in the fire department, Chief Messner underlined that he has always believed effective leaders, lead by example.

"That integrity of leading by example - that's one thing that I hold primary for myself and my leadership will never ever waver from that."

Having served under various fire chiefs across Alberta and the Northwestern Territories, he said that he has been able to observe and then implement different styles and strategies when it comes to leadership; moulding it to his own. And while he is still settling into the role of Fire Chief, Messner said that he will be looking into various ways of improving the department, including the department's training program. Messner said there are efficiencies to be had as well as looking at efficiencies when it comes to the department's equipment. For the time being though, Chief Messner is hoping to get better acquainted with the operational side of the department. 

Having started his firefighting career at 18 as a paid-on-call firefighter, Chief Messner said that his understanding of what it means to be a firefighter grew over time.

"[After] a couple of months after I actually started getting into firefighting, I realized what being a firefighter is all about; and that would be primarily making a difference within a community in somebody's life," he said. 

Though he could have picked a different career path, Chief Messner was adamant that the traditions and pride that come from within the firefighting community have a particularly strong pull on him.

"The traditions and the pride that comes with firefighting - of really working with the community and serving the community; that takes a special person. I really did want to continue being that special person within this industry. That's basically where that started and where I am today."

Chief Messner worked in Crowsnest Pass for a little over four years. He also worked in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories as well as Hay River, Alberta and Medicine Hat. Apart from working as a firefighter in Medicine Hat, he was also a training and logistics officer for 15 years. 

"There's a reason why I picked Crossfield; to come here and move my family here. [Crossfield] is a wonderful town, filled with wonderful people. The feeling that I'm getting from the department here; is being exemplified by the people that are here. I can see the pride in the people that serve here, and hopefully, that can continue on and that will definitely help keep me here."

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