Photos by: Denise Cooperwhite
Still in his prime at 49 years of age, new Milton Fire Chief Dave Pratt spends his downtime playing hockey as part of an Acton Houseleague. When asked about his other hobbies, he noted time spent volunteering at the Santa Claus parade, and assisting with local fireworks on special occasions like Canada Day. The fact that this community involvement was listed as a hobby, and not as part of Pratt’s job, speaks volumes about the Chief.
Pratt was recommended to Council by Mayor Krantz and Town Chief Administrative Officer Bill Mann. Although he has been acting Fire Chief since January of 2017, on July 1 of this year the appointment became official. The advancement is well deserved, after 9 years with the Department. Formerly in the auto industry, Pratt began his fire career by volunteering at the Halton Hills Fire Station in Acton in 1998, and worked there from 2000 onwards. During this time, he dedicated himself to obtaining the education necessary to the field. In 2008 he was welcomed into the Milton Fire Department.
Dave is from Etobicoke, and lives with his family in Acton, but he lives and breathes the daily responsibilities of the Milton Fire Department. In many ways, the demands of his job mean that he is always on call, and he laughs when he tries to imagine what it might be like to “leave” work at the office. He describes the position as 24/7, 365 days a year. Although his level of responsibility is increased, colleague Carla Roselle believes Pratt is well prepared, and describes him as “hardworking, honest, and attentive.”
Despite the Hollywood vision most people have of firefighters speedily responding to calls and putting out fires, Dave describes suppression as only five percent of the job. In this field, there are three lines of defense: public education, inspection and enforcement, and finally, suppression. Public education includes community service – one of the reasons Miltonians see trucks and firefighters at public events. The Chief states, “I’ve always been a firm believer that everyone has a responsibility for their own fire safety (and that of their family). But the Department’s responsibility is to educate you.” This includes teachings on how to exit your home safely, find a safe place, and call 911. Within the home, the Department strongly encourages everyone to have both a smoke detector and CO detector in proper working condition. Thanks to this education, and a highly responsive team, there have been no home fire related fatalities in Milton in the past 15 years.
Priorities for the Milton Fire Department moving forward include a rehabilitation of the Steeles station, the building of a fifth fire station, and a focus on the community emergency management program. The new Chief is excited about these endeavours, “With growth comes opportunity – to hire more staff, buy more trucks, and build new stations.” He also wants to hear from you, the public, as they move towards an accreditation process to meet the level of service expected by the community.
Pratt’s wife Bernadette, and two teenage boys are excited for him, and supportive of his new role. His oldest son Myles also hopes to follow in his footsteps and become a firefighter. Perhaps the most concise description of Dave Pratt comes from colleague Mike Timbers at the Savoline station, “He is open to ideas, new concepts, and is always trying to improve things. He has been a great deputy, and he is going to make a wonderful chief.”