Merrickville-Wolford new fire chief has big plans for the department

Newly appointed Merrickville-Wolford Fire Chief Mark Urquhart knew from a young age what he wanted to do in his life. Photo credit: Sally Smith
Posted on: May 25, 2017

Sally Smith

Hes a thinker and a planner. Mark Urquharts been on the job as Merrickville-Wolfords Fire Chief for less than a month and already has two ideas he wants to put into play.  He wants to create junior and auxiliary members to the fire department. This is his way of getting youth interested and involved (and have a trained crew on hand when they turn 18), and to also keep the deep knowledge and understanding in the department by calling on the ‘old guys’ who dont want to be as active anymore but want to stay connected.

Urquharts two-pronged career spans 33 years as a paramedic and a volunteer firefighter. At the age of 14 he knew what he wanted to do; at the age of 18, in Gr. 13, he was kicked out of school and told to go to work, Urquhart says with a grin. That was probably because his pager kept going off and hed have to leave to get to the ambulance.

That wasnt the end of his schooling, though. He went to Algonquin College for the Ambulance Emergency Care program, graduated, and wrote his Emergency Medical Care Assistant papers, which allowed him to work full time in Ontario. In 1985 was hired in Brockville and he stayed there until 1989 at which time he, and the owner of the ambulance service, became the youngest owner and supervisorof an ambulance service in Ontario. He was 23 and the owner was 25.

On reflection, he says, I really didnt know the responsibilities at that time. I didnt have the training.

So he moved forward to get the training. First following his passion as a paramedic, and second becoming a volunteer firefighter. Hes been in the fire service for 25 years.

Before Merrickville he worked out of Lansdowne Station for 19 years with the Leeds and 1000 Islands Fire Service.

The secret about the joy and passion in his life, he says, is he teaches what he has learned. I had good partners and great mentors who understood common sense,” he says.

Urquhart values both common sense and logic, and teaches using personal anecdotes and stories. As a matter of fact, theres nothing he enjoys more than seeing men and women hes taught out in the field putting his lessons into action.

Soon to be 52, he says hell never retire — hell just move on and learn something else; hes the type of man who enjoys doing something different all the time.

This article first appeared in the May issue of Hometown News.