Credit: Bryden Pelletier
Grant Michael Solutions works with organizations to implement technological advances in the firefighting industry
This year began with two major accomplishments for Bryden Pelletier: not only was he named the 2021 Firefighter of the Year by the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS), but he was also named Assistant Fire Chief for Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare (OHS) for the District.
At just 30 years old, Pelletier is one of the youngest fire chiefs in the 136-year history of VFRS, which has 850 firefighters and is one of the busiest departments in the country. He credits the milestone to “truly amazing people throughout my firefighting career who have mentored me, raised me and taught me more about firefighting than I could have ever imagined.”
Darren Genge is one of those people.
Pelletier met fellow firefighter Genge right after he joined VFRS in 2016. Their friendship blossomed into a strategic planning and data solutions company called Grant Michael Solutions (GMS), which the duo founded in 2020 to bridge the gap between technology and first responders.
GMS works with various organizations to support the implementation of technical advances in the industry and its co-founders have the experience to facilitate these changes. “Fire is a very unique environment,” claims Pelletier.
His business background – including an MBA from Mount St. Mary’s University – is helpful during counseling sessions: “Because with that business background we’ve had the opportunity to be on so many calls [allows us to] Say, okay, that’s how we interpret this data, and companies, that’s how you should interpret it to run your business appropriately.” His team of two is able to find better ways to use and understand data related to firefighting and to provide rescue services, e.g. B. the analysis of existing emergency trends.
As one of six voting members of the COVID-19 task force that has kept local fire departments and firefighters functioning and safe during the pandemic, Pelletier claims his position as director of GMS often revolves around the application of research and technology to improve the physical extends and mental health of his colleagues.
6 o’clock in the morning
Pelletier starts running at 5:50 in the morning. Within 10 minutes of waking up, he’s down his bulletproof coffee and is out the door to walk his field retriever scout.
A quick shower and a few emails later, the Deputy Fire Chief makes his way to Vancouver Fire Hall No. 1 in Strathcona, which serves as both a working fire station and department headquarters. No food until after his 16-hour fasting window is over.
On a day of a fire emergency, Pelletier received the 911 call around 2am. As the head of occupational safety, he is immediately informed about ongoing operations and any fire-related injuries or three-alarm fires. When not needed on site, he is in the hall by 6.30am to handle the logistics, which often means putting out pictorial fires late into the night. Days like this are consumed by immediate needs and concerns and end with media interviews.
Pelletier’s mornings are typically packed with calls, check-ins, and meetings. From liaising with battalion chiefs and the Occupational Safety and Health department to planning assignments for the day, he moves around fire stations, answers emails and attends meetings.
Prior to his appointment as Assistant Fire Chief, Pelletier oversaw partnerships with various organizations to support local first responders. These meetings still take up much of his mornings and afternoons. He is often in contact with UBC’s Sports Cardiology BC regarding an ongoing project to develop a cardiovascular assessment for firefighters.
First responders like Pelletier could be driven by sheer passion, as he admits lunch is often “in the air,” especially on emergency days. A wrapped salad is a good choice, although setting aside time to eat is unlikely.
Big advocates of balanced home cooking, the Pelletier family usually prepares dinner together and it’s always full of fresh treats. Quality time with the family is important to the firefighter, even if he is on duty anytime, anywhere.
“If they’re on the phone at that time, something isn’t right,” says Pelletier. “Dispatch has a different ringtone, so being woken up by that call is awful.”
Even without a phone call, every day is a balancing act for the young fire chief, who takes care of his duties as head of GMS in the evenings and at weekends: “If there’s something to do from a business point of view, I’ll take care of it within a day.”