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Two local women promoted to Acting Captain with local Fire Rescue

March 17, 2022   ·   0 Comments

On March 7, New Tecumseth Fire Rescue (NTFR) promoted 13 people to the position of Acting Captain – including Station 1 Alliston firefighter Terrina Williams, and Station 3 Tottenham firefighter Tena Hargreaves.

As paid Acting Captains, Williams and Hargreaves will be responsible for the safety of fellow firefighters while on call, attending the scene of an accident or fire.

The Times asked these firefighters to tell us more about themselves.

This week: Tena Hargreaves – Acting Captain, Station 3, Tottenham

How long have you been working in Fire and what is your educational and professional background in relation to this?

I have been with NTFR for almost 10 years now and six years ago was fortunate to be hired as a career firefighter for another city. Outside of my fire career, I am a certified Project Manager that worked with a financial company for 13 years before leaving to be a career firefighter. I still do Project Management work in my spare time.

Why did you get this promotion, what does it mean to you personally, and what new responsibilities will you have?

This promotion was the outcome of a competition for 13 Acting Captain positions that became available between the three stations (Alliston, Beeton & Tottenham). The positions were posted and all current members that met the specified requirements were invited to apply. The process consisted of a resume/cover letter submission, a written exam, an interview and a practical scenario where we were monitored and graded on how we dealt with the scenario, led the crew and communicated to other crews/personnel according to industry standards and benchmarks. This promotion is an honour and a privilege for me. I have had so much help, support and guidance throughout my career and work alongside some very amazing men and women.

To be successful is very humbling and I would not be here without a lot of people and hard work. This new role is a development role that will enable us to transition from a firefighter in the back to a position of leading a crew both in emergency situations and on the training ground. We are now expected to learn to respond to emergency incidents, evaluate and command phases of the emergency incident. We also need to learn to utilize incident command principles and command officers and manage personnel and resources at the scene of fires and emergency situations.

How many people answer to you now, and what have they said of your promotion?

That is a difficult question. It’s not a matter of people “answering” to us but more the guidelines for the chain of command and communication in the fire service. In an emergency situation, we have a maximum of five (driver and up to 4 firefighters) in the back of the rig. At training we are split up into larger groups.

What drew you into this field? What do you like best about it, and what are the drawbacks?

I was convinced by a good friend at the gym to try out for the department as I was looking for something to do in the community. Doing this line of work had never crossed my mind before that. I tried out for a position, got hired, completely fell in love with the job and I have never looked back. The learning, teamwork and friendships formed at the hall make it the best job in the world. They quickly become your second family. The drawbacks are just the times that are expected to happen – long calls in the middle of the night when one has to go to work the next day or being on a bad call. But these are known when you enter the job and everyone comes together to support in those times.  It can also be hard on one’s family. We can get paged out at any time – day or night – family dinner, friends visiting, birthday celebrations, etc. Supportive family and friends are very important.

How have you used your role in the NTFD to better the community/yourself?

NTFR has given me the opportunity to get out more in the community and help support the people and businesses where I live. Food drives, fundraisers, fire education in the schools to name a few.  It has forced me to take care of myself and ensure that my health, mental health and physical fitness are in the best condition possible. It has also taught me to live life to the fullest. Anything can happen at anytime so do what you can while you can!

What would you tell people who are looking to start a career in FF?

I would tell them to do their research, visit fire halls and speak to those in the career. Ask questions. Ask for help if struggling with a certain component. Know the expectations for both the physical and academic requirements and ensure you meet those standards before applying. It can be a long, drawn out process, so be patient. If you are prepared and know the process it will happen. Be ready for a career long journey of always learning and bettering oneself.

What do you want to say to the young girls/women in our community about your role and their futures?

The world is your oyster. You can achieve what you want if you put your mind to it and prepare for it. As mentioned earlier, research the career and future that you are aspiring towards or dreaming of. Volunteer or do co-op if you have the opportunity to ensure it’s what you really want to do. Talk to those in the industry to learn all requirements and expectations and work towards getting to those levels. Don’t be afraid to fail.  It will happen. Several times. Learn from it and move forward. Surround yourself with those that know more than you so that you can become a better person and asset to your chosen profession. Ask for help if you need it. It takes a much smarter person to realize their limitations or lack of knowledge and ask for help to overcome those items. We have some very strong amazing women firefighters with NTFR and I’m proud and blessed to work alongside them.  

What are your professional goals going forward?

I’m currently looking forward to my journey as an Acting Captain and hopefully that will lead to a Captain’s position in the future.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to be outside and active. I have a hard time sitting still. I like to be social and active with my family and friends. I am an avid gym-goer but I also enjoy reading a good book or cooking. I do like to travel as well when the opportunity arises.

By Wendy Gabrek

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