After 21 years of service with the Fort Smith Volunteer Fire Department, Chief Darren Linaker has announced he is retiring from his position.
“It’s time to move on to other things and let others in the department step up and take a leadership role,” Linaker told The Journal.
The decision to retire was made weeks ago, but was only released publicly last week at the town council committee of the whole meeting.
Linaker served as chief for 14 years, overseeing efforts to enhance training and response measures for mounting threats like interface forest fires.
“It’s been a good ride, it was very enjoyable,” he said. “There’s been some highs and lows but, overall, I’m very honoured and privileged to have filled this role.”
Traditionally, the chief recommends the deputy fire chief to be appointed as chief upon retiring, and this time will be no different. Linaker has put Wesley Steed’s name forward to be the new chief, but it will be up to town council to decide.
Linaker said he will most likely look at taking part in other community service endeavors in the future.
“I’m going to miss the department,” he said. “There’s a great group of guys and gals there. I’m going to miss that camaraderie.”
Councillor Bernie Minute praised Linaker for all of his work over the years during last Tuesday’s meeting at town hall.
“We are lucky to have such long term, dedicated service in our community,” said Minute. “I would like to personally congratulate Darren Linaker. Fort Smith has become an exporter of fire skills under his care.”
Linaker will be formally recognized at the town’s staff appreciation awards on September 27.