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A Decade of Service – Rob Close honoured for his work with the Fort St. John Fire Department

Urban Systems Principal Rob Close was recently recognized for 10 years of service as an auxiliary firefighter with the Fort Saint John fire department. We caught up with Rob to discuss his decade with the fire department and why he is so passionate about community involvement.
Urban Systems Partner Rob Close was recently recognized for 10 years of service as an auxiliary firefighter with the Fort St. John fire department. We spoke with Rob to discuss his decade with the fire department and why he is so passionate about community involvement.

Rob, How did you originally get involved with the Fort St. John Fire Department, and why?

RC – Here at Urban Systems in Fort St. John we’re connected quite closely to our clients and community. We live in this city and our clients are more than clients, they’re our friends too. I really believe that helping out can have a big impact in small communities, and so many people in our office dedicate time to volunteering.

When I moved to Fort St. John 18 years ago, I was pitching in through Urban with things like the annual tree planting day, the annual garbage cleanup and other community projects like gardens and boardwalks for the local Girl Guides. Then 10 years ago I moved next door to the city’s fire chief and he told me about the On Call Fire program. Every little boy wants to be a fireman, right? So I decided to give it a try and it turns out I love it. It’s a great group and we have a lot of fun. It’s such a neat way to support the community.

Ten years is a long time! What are your best memories with the fire department?

RC – Well, I’ve never saved anyone directly, but I did save a kitten once (laughs). The freshest memories are more about being up all night and then coming into work in the morning with no sleep! But really, my favourite part is helping out the guys here and doing my part to contribute.

Can you talk about why you think community involvement is so important? Does it impact the relationship Urban Systems has with its clients?

RCUrban is a big part of the community, which leads to close working relationships. Fort St. John is fortunate to have a base of people who live here who are very interested in and proud of their community. The locals take pride in the community and get heavily involved. People are friendly here, it feels like a small town.

I want to acknowledge that there are lots of people in our office who are doing great work in the community. For example just off the top of my head, Chad Carlstrom is heavily involved in local APEG chapter, Edward Stanford is involved in too many organizations to even keep track of; Jake Hughson involved in Synergy Junior Chamber of Commerce. We have a real culture of contribution here.

Our relationship with the City of Fort St. John isn’t just project-by-project; we have a deeper ongoing commitment that’s been set up in five-year spans. As that relationship progresses, our office continues to make every effort to support the community and get to know our clients as people. Through our community service we develop relationships with the people we serve, versus just treating them like clients. We go out for dinner with them and spend time in the community and get to know each other really well. It’s so much more than just chasing projects, it’s building community and friendships.

What’s in store for the future?

RC – I have no plans to slow down. The Fire Department here is a composite department, so that means it’s a blend of career firefighters and paid on call firefighters. Of the paid on call guys, I’m one of the most senior ones there and now I’m involved in hiring of other paid on call firefighters. I love the work and I don’t see myself pulling back any time soon. Although I do have admit it’s harder to get up at 2am than it was ten years ago!

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