By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Coaldale’s current Director of Protective Services and Fire Chief, Kevin McKeown, has been named Lethbridge’s new Deputy Fire Chief.
The Town of Coaldale also announced McKeown’s departure will see Coaldale’s current Deputy Fire Chief Clayton Rutberg replace McKeown as both Director of Protective Services and Fire Chief in the coming weeks.
McKeown became involved with Coaldale & District Emergency Services (CDES) as a volunteer firefighter and full-time primary care paramedic, early on in his career in 2007. A decade later, McKeown found himself in the top leadership role for the department.
“It was truly a dream come true to have the opportunity to serve as Fire Chief ten years later,” McKeown said in the Town’s announcement.
McKeown called his time with CDES, “a career-high.”
“Coaldale has played such a large role in my career; I owe a lot of my experience and knowledge to this department. I have been fortunate to be successful in my career progression in part thanks to the Coaldale and District Emergency Services, and the people that supported me and helped me grow as a professional and as a person.”
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Town of Coaldale, Kalen Hastings, praised McKeown’s contributions to the community in the March 16 press release.
“For six years, Kevin poured his heart and soul into leading our volunteer fire department, and without him it simply wouldn’t be where it is today.”
In addition to the implementation of a firefighter property tax credit and business tax credit during his tenure in Coaldale, McKeown’s leadership saw the creation of the Kate Andrews Emergency Services Academy, the completion of the new firehall, and the procurement of an aerial platform truck, and enhancements to officer development, firefighter training, firefighter recruitment and retention, as well as the creation of a firefighter health and wellness program.
“Although I am sad to leave, I am so proud of where the people and this department is today.”
Rutberg, who will assume leadership as the Director of Protective Services and Fire Chief called his departure “bittersweet.”
“Chief McKeown has laid the groundwork to continue advancing the department to meet the needs of our growing community,” said Rutberg adding he is, “incredibly honoured and excited to lead both the men and women of this department who work hard each and every day to provide outstanding service to our residents. I would like to wish Chief McKeown all the best in his new role.”
“Coaldale is an innovative and progressive fire service and I was extremely lucky to have been chosen to help mould the organization to where it is today and ensure that moving forward the foundation has been laid for a sustainable and professional fire service built around the mission, vision, and values of CDES,” McKeown told SSN.
McKeown will continue to serve as Fire Chief and as Director of Protective Services until April 17, 2023.