He’s got some big shoes to fill, but new Prince Albert Fire Department acting chief Jason Everitt says he’s going to do what he can to fit into them.
© Daily Herald photo by Perry Bergson.
Deputy fire chief Jason Everitt is the new acting fire chief in Prince Albert after the retirement of former chief Les Karpluk.
Everitt, one of the city’s two deputy chiefs, was named acting fire chief on Monday after longtime chief Les Karpluk retired in February.
“Les did incredible things and I’m very grateful for that,” Everiit says. “To try and replace him is going to be extremely difficult if not impossible. We’ll do what we can to keep the momentum going that he was instrumental in initiating.”
Everitt is optimistic and excited about the new opportunity, but it’s one he didn’t expect to get. He says he was happy working as a deputy chief, and thought he’d continue in that capacity for the foreseeable future.
“A year ago if you would have asked me ‘in a year do you think you’ll be acting fire chief’ the answer would have been an unequivocal no,” he says. “Les was in place and he was moving forward and great things were happening.”
Things changed quickly after Karpluk’s retirement. Prince Albert city manager Jim Toye says they needed a temporary candidate to fill in while they reviewed their options, and Everitt was just a good fit. He’s expected to hold the position for the next few months.
“He does have experience, not just working in a fire department, but in large corporations, so he’s acquired good management skills,” Toye says. “He’s got good communication skills, he’s got good management skills and he’s a good leader.”
Everitt says he doesn’t plan on changing much in the department. He’s happy with the direction they’re heading in, and just wants to maintain the status quo.
“It’s not going to be a drastic change. We’re going to continue on in the same direction and along the same path that (Les) was responsible for laying down.”
As chief, Everitt is responsible for crew preparation and operational readiness. His job is to make sure the members of the department are focused and properly supplied.
“The actual position of acting chief isn’t a lot different than what I’ve currently been acting in,” he says. “Both deputy chief (Corey) Rodgers and myself have in the past filled in for the chief in his absence, so this is just a continuation of that experience.”
Prior to joining the Prince Albert Fire Department, Everitt worked for the Cameco Corporation at the Key Lake Uranium Processing Facility in northern Saskatchewan. He was a safety/emergency response training specialist and safety officer at the facility, and has an extensive background in industrial safety, fire and EMS services in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
However, despite those impressive credentials, Everitt says it will be difficult to replace Karpluk, who became chief in 2005. In total, Karpluk spent more than 30 years as a firefighter, and Everitt says it’s going to be a tough act to follow.
“Will I ever be a Les Karpluk? I can’t say that. Probably never, just because of who he was. Like I say, it’s going to be extremely difficult to try and not only to replace but even to mimic what he was able to do here.”