Roger Gillis: Assistant Fire Commissioner
Whenever there is an emergency in Manitoba, our team gets involved to help keep Manitobans as safe as possible.
Local 26 - Civil Service, Legal Component
When a Manitoba residence or business catches fire, the consequences are always devastating. That’s why our province’s Assistant Fire Commissioners (AFC) are so critically important to public safety.
“Our key role is to investigate the cause of the fire, and do what we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” says Roger Gillis, an AFC for the past 18 years. “That can mean assisting police with a criminal arson case, working with medical examiners to determine the cause of a fire-related death, or ensuring that manufacturers address the kind of defective products that start fires.”
When not dealing with a fire’s aftermath, AFC’s also provide vital public education initiatives aimed at preventing fires before they start, and limiting the damage when they do. For instance, AFC’s regularly conduct fire prevention inspections to ensure fire alarms are installed and working properly.
“All of this has a direct impact on Manitobans,” Gillis says. “It can save lives and keep insurance premiums down for all of us.”
If that weren’t enough, the work day of an AFC can include a whole host of other public safety initiatives.
In cases where criminals have set up crystal-meth labs or marijuana grow operations, their job is to inspect the property for mould and other hazardous contaminants and determine what must be done to make it habitable once again.
AFC’s also regularly support the RCMP and other police with their Ground Search and Rescue Network looking for lost or missing persons. “Our rescue team members were recently in Sagkeeng First Nation assisting in the search for a 14-year-old boy,” says Gillis.
There’s also an Urban Search and Rescue Team, a highly specialized group trained to respond to urban events like the 9-11 attack in New York. A few years back, they were on the scene when the tornado hit Elie.
In dry seasons, AFC’s get to work providing the high volume water supply and sprinkler distribution systems needed to protect entire communities from approaching forest fires.
“We have the most diverse job of any emergency response agency in Manitoba,” Gillis says. “Really, whenever there is an emergency in Manitoba, our team gets involved to help keep Manitobans as safe as possible.”
UPDATE: After many years of dedicated service to the Province of Manitoba, Roger has now retired.