It has been seven months, but the Municipality of South Dundas’ wait is over.
Cameron Morehouse, the township’s new director of Fire and Emergency Services, is set to fill the former fire chief’s seat beginning Monday, August 22.
“I’m very excited to be here,” Morehouse said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge of taking this fire department into the future.”
Morehouse visited the municipality on Monday, August 15 to familiarize himself with his new digs and to meet the three deputy fire chiefs from the Iroquois, Morrisburg, and Williamsburg stations, which he also toured that day.
“I met all the deputy chiefs this morning, educating myself with how many personnel they have and what kinds of calls they respond to, seeing the equipment and hall status,” he said.
Morehouse, a resident of nearby Prescott, comes to South Dundas from the Township of Lanark Highlands, where, covering a one-year contract, he served as fire chief. He has more than 20 years of experience in fire prevention and education, which includes acting as fire chief for the Bonnechere Valley Fire Department and deputy fire chief for the Augusta Fire Department before that. He is currently a member of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and the Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officers Association.
Morehouse has lived and served in rural areas his whole life.
“I’m a local guy from the area,” he said. “I grew up around the Kemptville area. I played hockey in this area and my kids played hockey in this area. It (the job in South Dundas) just seemed like a good opportunity for me at the time.”
It will take some time for Morehouse to familiarize himself with the people and procedures currently in place with South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services, but he doesn’t see that as an issue.
“Things are running very well,” he said, adding that there is always room for improvement but he will need some time in the chief’s seat to evaluate things.
Morehouse said he needs to get caught up on fire agreements, bylaws, levels of service, census numbers, and more, but one of his first priorities will be creating a job description for a new fire assistant and getting that posted.
“I’m not a heavy handed guy,” he said. “I try to work with people and create good relationships.”
As the new director, which comes with all the same duties as the title fire chief, Morehouse will be doing plenty of administrative work: reports, dealing with Ontario Fire Marshall regulations, financial planning, assessing and ensuring each department has the right equipment and gear, ensuring adherence to the Ministry of Labour health and safety regulations, and more. The duties of a fire chief are becoming more of the paper shuffling variety, he said, but fire prevention and education are definitely top priorities.
As for attending fire calls, Morehouse said he will only be going to those considered “major,” where either there is more than $5,000 damage, a firefighter has been injured, or there has been a death.
Once he has had time to assess and evaluate things in South Dundas, Morehouse said he is looking to create a five-year plan to ensure South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services is where it needs to be in 2021.