KAWARTHA LAKES-City of Kawartha Lakes Fire Chief Mark Pankhurst announced his retirement today, effective June 30th.
Pankhurst has been Chief for 10 years and with the fire department in various positions for more than 28 years. He started his career in 1989 with Ajax Fire and Emergency Services.
“There are so many people I would like to thank and acknowledge and I hope to be able to see all of you after we get through this present COVID-19 emergency.” Pankhurst said. “I would be remiss if I did not recognize the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) Board of Directors, OAFC colleagues, Section 21 colleagues, the Kawartha Lakes Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 1701 and the Kawartha Lakes Volunteer Firefighters CUPE Local 5453. Thank you all for being a huge part of my career.”
City CAO Ron Taylor thanked Pankhurst for his service.
“We wish you well in your retirement and thank you for your many years of dedicated service to Kawartha Lakes.” noted Taylor. “Not only did you serve as the City’s Fire Chief but you also successfully led the City’s Emergency Operations Centre through various flood, health and catastrophic accidents, incidents and exercises of the past several years.”
Pankhurst was responsible for implementing diesel exhaust extractors in all fire stations, proper decontamination and hygiene practices for firefighters, bunker gear and washing facilities for contaminated gear and new self-contained breathing apparatus according to the City.
His tenure has not been without controversy. The retirement comes at a time when volunteer firefighters say morale within the fire service has been low.
In January Kawartha 411 learned that at least one firefighter was suspended from the Kirkfield firehall amid what appeared to be a growing divide within the ranks.
A week ago the volunteer firefighters joined CUPE and ratified a new contract. Read more here :https://www.kawartha411.ca/2021/05/20/volunteer-firefighters-join-cupe-ratify-new-contract/
In January 2013 Pankhurst paid $1,100 and served a year on probation after pleading guilty to operating a boat in a careless manner. A charge of exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit was withdrawn.
Chief Pankhurst was stopped by OPP marine patrol officers while boating on Lake of Bays near Hunstville on the Labour Day weekend. He was charged with exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit and his licence was suspended for 90 days.
Chief Pankhurst has many interests outside of the Fire Service, and says he is looking forward to getting back to some hobbies, spending lots of time at the cottage and enjoying time with family and friends.
“I have complete confidence that the Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service will continue to provide the highest level of service moving forward as a team, and I send everyone best wishes and hope for continued success. Thank you for the privilege and opportunity to be your Fire Chief.” Pankhurst stated.