PFM Executive Search in Hunt for Vancouver Fire Chief

November 2, 2016 – The City of Vancouver has selected PFM Executive Search to help find its new fire chief. Partners Allison Rzen and George Madden are leading the unusual search assignment from their base in Canada.

As the leader of the Vancouver Fire & Rescue Service (VFRS) and a member of the City of Vancouver’s corporate management team, the fire chief there is accountable for the effective and efficient delivery of fire suppression, first response, protection, education, prevention and safety services for the residents and visitors of Vancouver.


The incoming chief will work with the VFRS leadership team to set and implement the strategic vision and plan for the department, and will have overall responsibility for the operations of 20 halls across the city, employing more than 750 professional and administrative team members.

The chief will also work closely with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders to ensure VFRS is meeting the needs of the community and is aligned with and integrated within the strategic goals of the city. Serving a highly diverse population, the chief is responsible for building a team that represents that diversity and supports an inclusive culture.

The Right Leader

The new fire chief will bring proven skills as an outstanding leader and communicator who can create an environment that encourages and respects diversity of culture, approach and thought. With experience in a large urban center, the ideal candidate must be recognized as a strategic and innovative leader within a complex fire service, and who has worked closely with municipal and community partners to contribute to the enhanced livability and safety of a community.

In addition, the chief will have a track record of ensuring effective interoperability among first responder partners, and have a demonstrated ability to work in partnership with senior managers, front-line staff, union leaders, elected officials and the community to create a department that is accountable and responsive. During his or her career, the candidate will have also gained proficiency in budgeting, developing and implementing business plans, interacting with the media and making public presentations. It seems being a fire chief isn’t what it used to be.

According to the most recent census. the City of Vancouver recorded 603,502 people, making it the eighth largest Canadian municipality. The Greater Vancouver area of around 2.4 million inhabitants is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country.

Based in Vancouver, the search firm, PFM, serves a wide range of industries, working with private, public and not-for-profit organizations to fill senior level executive roles. It has recruited a number of leaders for non-profit organizations, including the CEO for Creative BC, the executive director of Integrated Health Services, CEO for Fraser Health Authority, the chief medical health officer for Northern Health Authority, the chief financial officer at Capital Regional District (CRD)and the CEO for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

The Search Consultants

Ms. Rzen has over 14 years of experience in the executive search field and works with a wide array of clients in the public and private sectors. She is familiar with the City of Vancouver with experience coordinating convention services for the Greater Vancouver Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A 20-year veteran of the executive search industry, Mr. Madden’s professional accomplishments in communications, public affairs and management have made him a well-known figure in the Canadian business landscape. He turns an incisive understanding of business affairs and a natural affinity for distilling complex client objectives into measurable goals and results, according to clients.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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