Background: Mike Van Laerhoven was one of three Agassiz firefighters who volunteered to help fight the Elephant Hill wildfire in the summer of 2018. (Black Press Media)

Mike Van Laerhoven new deputy chief for Agassiz Fire Department

The firefighter will be taking over the role of deputy chief and emergency coordinator

There’s a new deputy fire chief and emergency coordinator in town.

Agassiz firefighter Michael Van Laerhoven will be filling the role recently vacated by Gerald Basten, who became the fire chief after Wayne Dyer retired in December 2018. He’ll be responsible for emergency management and fire protection for the District of Kent, Seabird Island and Harrison Hot Springs.

RELATED: Agassiz fire chief retiring after 28-year career

“I think Mike’s going to do fantastic in the new role,” fire chief Gerald Basten said. “He’s young and energetic and always looking for a challenge.”

Van Laerhoven has been a firefighter with the department since 2010, and in 2012 was presented with the James G. Morrow Memorial Award for Rookie of the Year. He was also given an award for the most volunteer hours that same year.

In the summer of 2017, Van Laerhoven was among those who helped BC Wildfire battle flames along Harrison Lake and also volunteered to help fight the Elephant Hill wildfire near Sheridan Lake.

RELATED: Agassiz firefighters reflect on B.C.’s summer wildfires

“I like making a difference in my community and that’s one of the reasons I joined the fire department,” Van Laerhoven said in 2017. “And I never wish for (wildfires) to happen but I’m happy that the training was provided to me and I can assist and make a difference.”

That kind of training will be important for Van Laerhoven, Basten said, as the emergency coordinator position becomes more and more relevant.

“Whether it’s climate change or not, it seems we are impacted by severe weather events more and more as time goes by,” Basten said. “Typically, 10 or 15, even 20 years ago, the emergency operations centre for the district and the village would have only been used for exercises and seldom … required for an emergency.

“Now, it seems that we’re standing up the emergency operations centre every year, whether it be for a freshet (or) potential flood waters. Last year we had the Mount Hicks wildfire. In 2017 we had the big landslide, rock slide on Rockwell Drive, and prior to that, the ice storms throughout the winter,” he continued.

“Emergency operations centre is being utilized more and more often as the hub and focal point for response to these environmental emergencies.”

Van Laerhoven has completed his emergency management certificate at the Justice Institute, and has already been working with the Kent Harrison Emergency Program over the past year during the freshet and Mount Hicks wildfire.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Outdoor rink, lagoon improvements on the agenda for Harrison

The projects are intended to increase tourism numbers and infrastructure in the resort village

Look at the latest: Family Day in Agassiz and Harrison

Don’t let the new day fool you, there’s still lots to do for Family Day in Agassiz and Harrison

Opioid overdoses killing three people a month in Chilliwack

35 deaths in 2018 locally compare to 23 in 2017, 13 in 2016 up from about five per year before that

Harrison to discuss future of mutual aid with Kent

Staff will discuss what mutual aid for the fire departments means before signing a new contract

PET CARE: Valentine’s Day brings holiday hazards

Veterinarian Nicolette Joosting shares her tips for keeping your pets safe this Valentine’s Day

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Fourteen ‘dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt

Sinkholes throughout the subdivision have prompted the District of Sechelt to issue evacuation orders

Police investigating after 14-year-old boy pepper sprayed at Surrey mall

Surrey RCMP say two males fled the scene before officers arrived on scene at Guildford Town Centre

Third measles case in Vancouver prompts letter to parents

Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air

Abbotsford’s Matsqui prison beefing up security against contraband

Correctional service says officials found a number of unauthorized items during ‘exceptional search’

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Most Read