West Kelowna Fire Rescue chief Wayne Schnitzler is calling it a career.
Schnitzler told West Kelowna council Monday he plans to retire at the end March following 36 years in firefighting. Schnitzler’s last day as chief will be March 27, 2015.
“I have been extremely fortunate to have worked in the fire service for more than 30 years. It is an incredibly rewarding career,” he said in a news release issued Monday. afternoon.
“I am also very proud to have worked with our excellent West Kelowna firefighters who are a force, I believe, which is second to none. I will miss them, and working with the staff and the council of West Kelowna. But I am looking forward to starting the next chapter.”
While he did not say what he plans to do next, and could not immediately be reached for comment, Schnitzler was praised by West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater for his work as the district’s first, and so far only, fire chief, particularly during several large scale emergencies such as the Glenrosa wildfire and wild fires in Rose Valley and Terrace Mountain to the north of the municipality.
“I know I speak on behalf of council when I say that chief Schnitzler will be greatly missed,” said Findlater on the eve of being sworn back into office for a third consecutive term as mayor. He was a member of the first West Kelowna council that hired Schnitzler in 2008, shortly after the municipality incorporated.
“Wayne has worked alongside myself and council on numerous occasions, helping us to navigate some significant emergency situations and it was obvious how fortunate we are to have his tremendous experience and knowledge on our side. He will be a hard act to follow, but I know he has also ensured that West Kelowna has a well-trained, dedicated firefighting force that will continue to serve us well.”
Schnitzler was previously fire chief for the former Westside Fire Protection District, starting in 1996. As West Kelonwa’s chief, he oversaw four fire halls, two assistant chiefs, 28 full-time firefighters, approximately 60 paid, on-call firefighters, a fire prevention officer, a fire inspector, a public educator and two support staff.
Prior to moving to the Okanagan, Schnitzler got his start in firefighting in 1979 as a paid, on-call firefighter with the City of Surrey. He became a full-time firefighter in 1982.
Schnitzler worked his way through the ranks, becoming the captain of training before being hired by the Westside Fire Protection District.
West Kelowna will immediately start the recruitment process to find a replacement for its departing fire chief.
In 2013 Schnitzler received a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his dedication to the fire service in B.C. an award he was nominated for by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.