Local fire chief retires 0
After 12 years of service, Andy Schulthess has stepped as fire chief of Standard Volunteer Fire. At 65-years-old, Schulthess believes that it's a good time for him to retire, so he can travel more with his wife.
"My wife is retired," he said. "I think it's time to move on and enjoy the rest of my days."
Schulthess first stepped into the shoes of fire chief in early 2000, after he and his wife moved into Standard. But well before that, Schulthess had dedicated his life to helping others.
Schulthess grew up in Strathmore. Shortly after graduating high school, he made the decision to leave his rural routes and in 1968 he started as an ambulance operator with Emergency Services in Calgary. When the city took over Emergency Services in 1972, the Calgary Fire Department looked over the service, where Schulthess was a paramedic. In 1975, he moved on to a role at the dispatch centre.
Finally, around 1999, Schulthess and his wife decided they wanted to return to the rural life he grew up with, and they moved to Standard.
Schulthess recalled his time as fire chief as a good fit for him. His favourite aspect of the job? The collaboration.
"As a fire chief, you're an administrative head," he said. "So you have to be a leader and have a really good group of people to work with, which really helped, as well as working hand-in-hand with the other fire chiefs in the county. It was a wonderful thing, we all worked together really well."
In addition to serving as fire chief for Standard, Schulthess often trained volunteer fire fighters in departments throughout the county.
Just a decade ago, he remembers how every fire department operated very independently. If he had to pick one highlight from his career, Schulthess didn't mention any particular blaze or event, but rather the joining of the various fire departments throughout the county to bring up training standards. He said things have changed drastically in the past 10 years. Now the county fire departments work closer together, and having a hand in that collaboration is one of his proudest accomplishments.
Of course, bringing in more fire fighters in each department has always been a challenge, but it's one he believes is a major hurdle for any rural fire department.
"That's a universal thing," he explained. "That's an issue in Canada and the United States, it's not just a local thing. It's very difficult to find people who want to commit to something like this, because it takes a certain kind of person to be a fire volunteer. Every fire department has trouble find people who want to commit, because it is a big commitment, there's a lot of training that needs to be done and some people say, I can't give you that kind of time. But the ones we do have, they stay."
Going forward, Schulthess leaves the department behind to travel. He hopes to spend his winters in America, and travel much more during the summers. After a lifetime of helping people, Schulthess's reward is seeing the world.