By Chad Ingram
Nelson Johnson has seen a lot of Canada but now is taking in thescenery of the Haliburton Highlands as the new chief of the Minden Hills fire department.
“I have done just about everything” Johnson says seated in theboardroom of the Minden Hills fire hall of his 28 years infirefighting. He’s been an industrial firefighter a wildfirefirefighter a municipal firefighter and for seven years was aninstructor at a firefighting school in Alberta.
Born in Fort St. John B.C. Johnson has lived all over the countrybut spent 31 years in Alberta. Before taking the job with Minden Hillswhich he started in mid-January Johnson was deputy chief of the firedepartment in Iqaluit Nunavut.
“It’s just always been my passion” he says of firefightingexplaining as a kid he’d watch shows about emergency responders andalso lived across the street from a fire hall in Toronto as a child. “Ialways watched them.”
Johnson says he enjoys the perennial challenge offered by work in the fire services.
“No job is ever the same” he says. “You’ve got to have that situational awareness.”
“I was ready for a fire chief position” Nelson who after nearly 30years is entering the final chapter of his career says of the move toMinden Hills. He says he was also looking to work with a volunteer fire department.
“I’ve come here and met a wonderful group of volunteers” Johnsonsays of the department’s members. “I look forward to many years ofworking with them.”
A press release issued by the Township of Minden Hills reads “In his role as fire chief for Minden Hills Nelson will be responsible forfire and emergency services and will provide proactive leadership inpolicy development and implementation fire prevention and suppressionfinancial administration staff recruitment and training and otheradministrative requirements relative to fire services and emergencymanagement operations.”
Johnson replaces Mike Bekking who’s been the township’s interimchief since former longtime fire chief Doug Schell resigned in the fallof 2017.