July 12th, 2024

Changing of the guard for LFES C Platoon


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on June 20, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services has named Todd Walker as C Platoon Chief after the retirement of Rob Chollak.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services C Platoon welcomed incoming Platoon Chief Todd Walker and recognized outgoing Chief Rob Chollak during a private Change of Guard ceremony Tuesday.

Walker, who has been with LFES for 26 years, told the Herald in a recent interview that it is an honour and privilege to be the new Platoon Chief and added that it is an incredible milestone in his career.

“It was a very special hand-over from Chief Chollack,” Walker said. “It was quite special as he is quite a significant leader in the department and I definitely have some big shoes to fill. I’m up for the task and I’m looking forward to filling that role.”

Walker explained that in his new role he will provide guidance to all the captains and staff, be a liaison between administration, the deputy chief captains and the firefighters.

“My responsibility is to show up at scenes and provide guidance if needed, or to be a support personnel if needed and facilitate the arrangement of crews to be able to do their training. I also facilitate a lot of the transfers and making sure we have enough personnel on duty every day, among other things.”

He explained there are four platoons and any time they are on shift, they are in charge of the whole city. Whenever C Platoon is on shift, Walker said he will be managing all five fire halls by managing the captains in each fire hall, as each captain is in charge of a station and they manage the firefighters on duty.

“To be able to become the chief it was a hiring process and we had some really great candidates. I was fortunate to be the successful candidate, very fortunate through my career to be involved in many specialty teams.”

Walker said that includes the water rescue team and the technical rescue team, and he was also involved in many committees and many different aspects of the department like the honour guard and the Pipe Band.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to stay engaged and involved in many teams and communities through my time on the department, which probably gave me some sort of a leg up, but all the members that went through the hiring process were really great, qualified applicants.”

Recalling some of the highlights of his career, Walker talked about being on three different calls where babies were delivered and putting out significant fires, but most of all spending time riding the fire trucks with his fellow firefighters.

Outgoing chief Rob Chollak also shared some memories from his 34 years in the Fire Department, including one that dates back to the turn of the century.

“Back when we had the Y2K turning from 1999 to 2000, we had a real concern within the department,” Chollak said. “We were doing months and months of preparation for that because everyone was thinking all computer systems were gonna crash and we’re gonna run out of water, gas and everything.”

Chollak said even though that did not happen, it was interesting preparing for it. He also remembered the flood of 1995 and how they prepared for a scenario that did not actually happen either, which turned out to be better for the department in their efforts to evacuate.

“It was quite interesting getting prepared for it and seeing how we were gonna transport and move patients from the west side, too, because the bridges were going to shut down so we were working on using the high level bridge, but the highway didn’t wash away so we we’re still able to use it to get across.”

And even though those two examples were some of the highlights of his career, there is one that tops it all because it involves his career and his family.

“I’ve got two boys who actually are both on the job, which has been quite a highlight to follow in my footsteps. They are both firefighter paramedics with the city of Lethbridge. I am very proud of both of them getting their paramedics and going through the process and following the career that I decided to do.”

As a new retiree, Chollak plans to spend time vacationing and fulfilling his role as a grandfather.

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