24-year member Kris Olsen announced as Prince Albert fire chief

Kris Olsen speaks to media about a new rescue boat on Sept. 9, 2019. (Jason Kerr/Daily Herald)

“I’m honoured, honoured that the city felt confident in my abilities and offered me the position.” – Chief Kris Olsen

A longtime member of the Prince Albert Fire Department (PAFD) was announced as chief on Monday morning.

Kris Olsen started as a recruit firefighter with the department in 1995. Since then, he said he’s shown up to work every day with a dedicated mindset—not necessarily making it a goal to one day become chief, but to always work hard and naturally go up the ladder.

“I slowly progressed,” he said in an interview, explaining that after over 10 years he worked his way up to a captain and then a battalion chief.

He follows previous Chief Jason Everitt, who transferred to a new position in Melfort over a year ago.

Olsen has been the acting fire chief since June of this year.

“It kind of gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet and get a feel for the position,” he said. “I’m honoured, honoured that the city felt confident in my abilities and offered me the position.”

Olsen said his main goal is to continue to provide professional service to the citizens of Prince Albert.

“This will be accomplished through continuing education, training and prevention while providing professional response to all hazard emergencies in an effective manner,” he said in a news release.

“After an extensive search for the position of fire chief, we found the best candidate right from our own department,” said City Manager Jim Toye. “Kris Olsen has spent his entire 24-year career with the Prince Albert Fire Department. Kris has done an amazing job as acting fire chief and his knowledge, work ethic and professional demeanor will enable him to do an excellent job.”

On Sunday, Olsen gave media a tour of the fire department as part of their Fire Prevention Open House. He walked reporters down a hallway of photos of previous fire chiefs, ending at the blank space where his picture will now go.

PAFD kicks off Fire Prevention Week with annual open house

(Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The fire department was filled with hundreds of people on Sunday for the Fire Prevention Open House.

The event transitions into the nationally recognized Fire Prevention Week, taking place from Oct. 6 to 12. This year’s theme is ‘Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape!’

The week is dedicated to educating the public about the simple actions people can do to protect themselves from a fire.

PAFD Chief Olsen said it’s important to start teaching kids at a young age.

“It’s learning to be fire aware. You start young, teaching the kids the basic things. When they do smell smoke or when they do hear the fire alarm to get out and stay out,” he said.

“If you can set those benchmarks when they’re young and press upon them what fire safety means, it’ll serve them into their adulthood.”

Olsen said not only is their open house a chance to spread this message, but also an opportunity for people to interact with the firefighters and tour the building.

“A lot of people from day to day don’t get that opportunity,” he said. “People are curious. They’ve never been here before.”

He hopes the open house helps people see that the PAFD doesn’t just respond to fires, but any emergency hazard.

“A lot of people that haven’t in the past relied on our services don’t actually know what we do here,” said Olsen. “This is our day…to showcase ourselves and what we can provide and I think it will give some assurance.”

(Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The event also had activities for kids such as bouncy castles, face painting and colouring. The Prince Albert Gymnastics Club lent them mats to put on the floor outside of the bouncy castles.

Olsen said catering the event to kids has drawn more people in the last two years.

According to a Government of Saskatchewan news release, there were 14 deaths caused by a fire from 2018-19 in the province. Thirteen of them occurred in residential properties.