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Fire Service: Make Yourself a Great Candidate and Get Involved

Shelly Morris is the Assistant Fire Chief in Surrey B.C. Canada serving over 500,000 residents, 15 fire halls and over 400 firefighters.  Her responsibilities are Emergency Planning for the entire municipality as well as community engagement and diversity recruitment.  Through community engagement the Fire Service she works with her fellow fire fighters and volunteers from all facets of our community who want to give back and provide the capacity for resilience when faced with adverse conditions.  Working with volunteers is inspirational as I get to meet wonderful people who care deeply about the welfare of others.

I came from a small town in Northern B.C. Canada and made my way to the thriving metropolis of the lower mainland B.C on a Track and Field/volleyball scholarship.  After completing my Bachelor’s degree and competing for Simon Fraser University, I started looking into a career that would fulfill my desire to be physically active, strategic and make a difference in people’s lives.  Firefighting was suggested to me as an ideal career to which became my new focus to achieve.  That was in 1997.  Since then, I embarked on a journey that has provided me with the kind of career that has left me feeling fulfilled and challenged on a daily basis.  I started as a firefighter learning all the many skills and abilities required in the diverse situations we needed to overcome.  As my career progresses, I became a Captain and began a role in a leadership capacity providing guidance an oversight to meet our strategic objectives in harrowing circumstances.  After several years in this role, I set my sights on the management level in our organization. In 2017, I was promoted to an Assistant Fire Chief in a City serving over 500,000 residents, 15 fire halls and over 400 firefighters.  My responsibilities are Emergency Planning for the entire municipality as well as community engagement and diversity recruitment.  Through community engagement the Fire Service has welcomed volunteers from all facets of our community who want to give back and provide the capacity for resilience when faced with adverse conditions.

Working with volunteers is inspirational as I get to meet wonderful people who care deeply about the welfare of others.  They care so much that they give their cherished time freely in order to spread messages of emergency preparedness and fire safety.  The diversity recruitment piece of my portfolio is near and dear to my heart as well.  I remember when I was first told about career opportunities in the Fire Service, my response was… “Do they hire women?”  I want to everyone to know that this is a career that is available to them no matter who they are.  It’s about changing perceptions and breaking down barriers, not only with others but our own.