Columbia Valley Rural Fire & Rescue Chief Jim Miller has retired after 28 years of service with the department.
Miller said he started off in the Columbia Valley department as a volunteer firefighter.
“I was later voted in by my peers as the deputy chief and then migrated to the fire chief position as a volunteer,” said Miller. “It was a few years later that the regional district approached me to start looking at making this into an actual career as a full-time job with them. That part, as a full-time fire chief, has been about 15 or 16 years doing that, now.”
Miller celebrated his last day on the job on Monday, Feb. 28th with several RDEK board members in attendance.
Miller said he has seen a number of changes over the years he has been with the team.
“It has come a long way, from a small volunteer fire department where we just kind of did things as best we could on our own, to a more regulated, properly trained force that come up through the office of the fire commissioner,” said Miller. “Our communities have grown substantially, so it has created a need for bigger fire halls, more fire trucks and equipment and more responsibility.”
He noted that he is also particularly proud of the addition of the Valley’s first aerial ladder truck and the addition of a hovercraft to help out rescue work.
Miller said he will take advantage of his retirement by getting to work on a number of projects.
“I used to be into restoring vehicles for people, and I’m going to start on that again,” said Miller. “The wife and I plan on building a new house on an acreage we bought a number of years ago, so we maybe we can get started on that this year. There’s a lot of irons in the fire right now, so I’m certainly not going to be sitting around looking for something to do.”
Deputy fire chief Drew Sinclair will step into the role following Miller’s retirement.
“I feel really good about leaving the department in Drew’s hands. He’s a great guy, he’s come a long way. I believe he will take the fire department and the regional district another jump ahead with a lot of good, new things coming down the pipe that he will introduce,” said Miller. “My hat’s off to him and I congratulate him and I think it’s going to go very well.”