Even after serving with the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) for over 35 years, Ken Hubbard decided retirement wasn’t in the cards for him.
“I wasn’t ready to truly walk away yet – I still had a lot to give,” he said.
Hubbard spent more than three decades with the AFD in various roles. He began as a volunteer firefighter with the department in 1986, before transitioning to an emergency services firefighter, an EMT and training officer from 1996 to 2002 as well as different operational and training roles throughout the early 2000s.
Hubbard became Deputy Chief with AFD in 2012 and stayed in that role until March 2021, when he moved to the Rocky View County Fire Services as District Fire Chief.
“I worked with a lot of great people [in Airdrie],” he recalled.
The opportunity to move to RVC’s firefighting service came at the right time, he said, and it was the perfect chance to apply his extensive skills to give back to the rural community
“I’ll continue to give back to the communities and help areas succeed as long as I’m able to do that and I’m still enjoying it,” Hubbard said.
Stepping into a new role with the County has brought Hubbard back to the roots of his firefighting career, as he is working with the volunteer firefighters that operate the stations throughout the rural region.
He said he particularly enjoys being involved with the training aspect of firefighting, as it allows him to educate newcomers that come to him as volunteers and may eventually go on to become professional career firefighters. Hubbard said he has been involved in various aspects of the training process throughout his career, including basic firefighting, water and ice recovery, large-scale incidents and vehicle accidents.
“I really enjoy the part of being able to help them grow to the next level and watching them succeed when they’re out performing and helping citizens as part of the incident response,” he said, “It’s actually very rewarding to see that all the hard work that you put into helping them get there is paying off when they are able to use those skills and make a difference.”
Hubbard’s recent change in job also has him working comprehensively on fire prevention and fire education – something he said is always relevant, but extremely so at the present time, as RVC reinstated a fire ban on July 14 in light of hot and dry conditions.
A highlight of the time in Airdrie for Hubbard, he said, was the 20 years he spent with the Calgary Regional Emergency Services Training Group. He explained this group started as a concept in the late 1990s as a way to get Calgary-area departments to collaborate in putting together courses to expand knowledge and training capabilities within smaller departments. Hubbard said the group worked to help other firefighters in southern Alberta become instructors so they could put on their own courses, as well as help with skills, equipment and scheduling.
Hubbard said the best part about his move to RVC so far has been the opportunity to get back into the stations and interact with various people and groups. He added this has ranged from putting on volunteer training nights to visiting local businesses for service checks as they prepare to re-open.
At the end of the day, Hubbard said all he wants to do is serve, which is why he’s still not ready to call it a career yet.
“Helping people on some of their darkest days – you make a difference,” he said.