Class of ’97 alumnus appointed deputy chief officer of Scotland

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August 1, 2017
EST alumnus Iain Bushell has taken his 25 years of emergency services experience in Canada to Scotland as deputy chief officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) in Glasgow,
Iain Bushell in uniform in front of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service logo
The Class of 1997 emergency services technology (EST) alumnus began his role as director of service delivery  in June. He oversees 356 fire stations with over 8,000 firefighters, and leads the development of the future SFRS operational model.

“I am looking forward to exploring the differences between how things are run in Scotland compared to Alberta and Canada, meeting new people, and broadening my network and horizons,” he says. “It is a huge challenge moving up from where I (was) in Strathcona to Scotland. Firefighting is the same at core - things burn and we put them out - but the way they run their systems, train and organize their people are a few of the things I am looking forward to learning.”

After putting in a little over 10 years in military aviation for the Canadian Armed Forces and a few years of volunteer firefighting, Bushell attended Lakeland’s EST program at the Emergency Training Centre in Vermilion. He says he chose the program because of the opportunity to gain both firefighter and emergency medical skills.

“I knew I wanted to get involved in emergency services, so being able to get both those qualifications at the same time, in the same program is what appealed to me.”

He also received valuable information from his instructors, who shared their experiences, and the small classroom sizes made for a successful team environment.

“I think it was a great foundation for me, and if nothing else, I learned to take the opportunities that I get and see what comes of them, and not to be afraid to challenge myself,” he says. “I was inspired to dream big, go out into the world and do the best I could do, and achieve all of the things I wanted to achieve.”

Bushell became a member of Strathcona County Emergency Services as a firefighter and paramedic in 2001. In a span of 12 years, he served as deputy fire chief of finance and human resources, deputy fire chief of operations, and then fire chief in 2013.

Bushell was browsing the United Kingdom’s Chief Fire Officers Association website when he found the job posting only a couple of months before his appointment.

With support from his family, Bushell decided the job was worth applying for. His dual citizenship made him an eligible candidate – he was born in England – and he was familiar with the country. He married his wife in Scotland 13 years ago.

In a three week period, Bushell completed a four-stage process which included submitting an online application, completing aptitude and psychometric tests, flying to Scotland for a command assessment, conducting a presentation, and finally sitting in a panel interview.
“It was a very quick process,” he says.

“As the deputy chief officer, the three assistant chief officers and the three civilian directors will report to me and then I’ll report to the chief. I think my job covers pretty much everything. I am looking forward to the next phase in my journey and I hope to bring new ideas and insight that will allow Scotland to deliver the best solutions for the communities.”

SFRS was established in April 2013, after Scotland’s previous eight regional fire and rescue services amalgamated. SFRS is the fourth largest fire service in the world. The service works in close partnership with communities across Scotland to deliver safety messages in the fight against fire.
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