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PoMo fire hall concerns not the reason for exit

Jeff Lambert says when he decided to "finally pull the pin" on his five-and-a-half-year career as Port Moody fire chief on May 2, the decision was less an explosive reaction to mounting pressure between the city and fire department over disagreements

Jeff Lambert says when he decided to "finally pull the pin" on his five-and-a-half-year career as Port Moody fire chief on May 2, the decision was less an explosive reaction to mounting pressure between the city and fire department over disagreements about a new fire hall, and more an arrival at his natural expiry date in a job that was different from the one he was hired to do.

"As a fire chief, there isn't a lot that can be guaranteed but one thing is that the day you start, you'll be doing something different than the day you finish," he told The Tri-City News on Monday. "It's just one of those jobs that's always changing and it's a tough one to get a handle on."

Lambert was picked to be Moody's highest-ranking firefighter in 2005, when he said he stood out among other applicants as a get-things-done leader and natural team-builder then heading up the small department in rural Fort St. John.

And he said some of the blame for why the fire chief's job is so different today than when he was hired might be because he accomplished many of the tasks the city and the Canadian and B.C. associations of fire chiefs set out for him.

Growing the Moody department in accordance with the city's growth was one of Lambert's local successes and fostering a national fire incident database, assisting B.C.'s lieutenant governor on a task force encouraging First Nations youth to get involved in firefighting and the developing of a new public safety master's degree at the Justice Institute of BC are just some of what Lambert called the "legacy projects" that he is proud to have been able to work on.

"All of that stuff I wouldn't have been able to do from Fort St. John," he said.

Still, Lambert admitted some disappointment with seeing the political stumbling blocks that the construction of the planned fire hall replacement hit while he was chief. He also advised whoever takes over his job that "a good chief basically lets the politicians do the politics and takes their direction - and gets a lot less ulcers that way."

Not ready to retire yet, Lambert, who has a master's degree in education, said he is looking at jobs teaching overseas in both firefighting and other fields.

Last month, one of PMFD's deputy chiefs, Remo Faedo was named interim fire chief as rumours circulated that Lambert had been fired. On May 11, nine days after Lambert said he resigned, the city said the chief was on vacation, then the next week said he was absent and Faedo was acting chief. Later, it announced Lambert had left the department.

tcoyne@tricitynews.com