Retiring from Fire - Fire Fighting in Canada

Leaving the Flames Behind – A Journey Through Firefighting in Canada


Retiring from the fire service can be a bittersweet experience, filled with mixed emotions and uncertainties about what lies ahead. It’s a decision that often comes with challenges, such as questioning one’s identity and purpose outside of the uniform. Many firefighters struggle with the transition and may even develop negative habits due to a lack of purpose. However, some individuals, like Fire Chief (Ret.) Cynthia Ross Tustin, see retirement as an opportunity for personal growth and new adventures. Others, like Deputy Fire Chief (Ret.) Gilbert MacIntyre and Fire Chief (Ret.) Shawn McKerry, embrace retirement to pursue hobbies, spend time with family, and explore new career paths. Despite the initial uncertainties, retiring firefighters can find fulfillment and purpose in the next chapter of their lives.

Full Article: Leaving the Flames Behind – A Journey Through Firefighting in Canada

Retirement from the Fire Service: A Mix of Emotions and New Beginnings

The Hesitations and Emotions of Leaving the Fire Service

Retirement from the fire service is a decision that often comes with mixed emotions. Some firefighters are ready and eager to embark on a new path, while others may feel hesitant about leaving the only job they’ve known. Shelley Langille, an executive career coach, has worked with many fire service members and first responders who experience a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to retiring. Langille explains that leaving the uniform behind can lead to confusion, identity crises, and negative assumptions or stigma surrounding retirement.

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Without the clear sense of purpose that comes with being a firefighter, some retirees find themselves with too much time on their hands and not much to do. This lack of purpose can lead to the development of bad habits such as excessive drinking, smoking, or leading a sedentary lifestyle.

A Proactive Decision: Fire Chief (Ret.) Cynthia Ross Tustin

When Fire Chief (Ret.) Cynthia Ross Tustin retired in August 2021, she made the decision from a place of proactive thinking. She wanted to avoid the cumulative stress that comes with being a firefighter and the demands of local government. Ross Tustin had served in the fire service for 35 years, including as the fire marshal and as the first female fire chief in Ontario. She initially entered the fire service because people told her she couldn’t, and she wanted to prove them wrong.

Upon retiring, Ross Tustin faced questions about her sense of purpose and what would give her the same “adrenaline high” she experienced as a fire chief. She also worried about leaving a role model for other women in the fire service. Despite her initial uncertainty, Ross Tustin pursued writing and painting full time. She now writes a retirement blog called “I’m Thinking of Retiring” and engages in copywriting and painting for clients.

An Unexpected Revelation: Deputy Fire Chief (Ret.) Gilbert MacIntyre

Deputy Fire Chief (Ret.) Gilbert MacIntyre’s path to retirement was unexpected. While looking into pension plan information for someone else, he stumbled upon his own retirement numbers. Seeing these numbers made him realize why his former colleagues seemed checked out after getting their retirement calculations.

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After 34 years in the fire service, MacIntyre began considering retirement. With his wife’s support, he decided to pursue retirement and started training his replacement. MacIntyre, who leads an active lifestyle, was happy to retire and spend more time with his family and engage in hobbies such as playing the guitar, practicing karate and Reiki, teaching yoga, and going to the gym. He didn’t feel the need to immediately find another job, as firefighters are skilled at finding ways to stay busy during downtime.

Accomplishments and New Beginnings: Fire Chief (Ret.) Shawn McKerry

Fire Chief (Ret.) Shawn McKerry felt a sense of accomplishment as he left his role in the Fort Saskatchewan Fire Department. He believed he had achieved more than he had ever expected as a fire chief and was ready to pass the torch to someone else. While McKerry isn’t yet at the standard retirement age, he decided to pursue new meaningful work related to firefighting.

In his second career, McKerry became the interim chief administrative officer in Brazeau County, Alberta, continuing to contribute to the emergency services field in a different capacity.

The retirement journey for firefighters is filled with a mix of emotions and new beginnings. Whether retiring with uncertainty or proactively planning the next chapter, these individuals find ways to navigate the transition and discover new senses of purpose and fulfillment.

Summary: Leaving the Flames Behind – A Journey Through Firefighting in Canada

Retiring from the fire service can be a challenging transition filled with various emotions and uncertainties. Many firefighters struggle with their identity and purpose outside of the uniform, leading to potential negative habits and a lack of fulfillment. However, some retired firefighters have successfully navigated this transition by proactively pursuing new goals and passions. Fire Chief (Ret.) Cynthia Ross Tustin chose to retire to avoid the accumulated stress of her job and to explore new avenues. Similarly, Deputy Fire Chief (Ret.) Gilbert MacIntyre followed his intuition and found fulfillment in hobbies and family time. Retiring firefighters like Shawn McKerry have found new ways to contribute to the fire service by taking on administrative roles or educating future firefighters. Despite the challenges, retiring from the fire service opens up opportunities for personal growth and exploration.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Frequently Asked Questions – Retiring from Firefighting in Canada

Frequently Asked Questions – Retiring from Firefighting in Canada

Q: What are the retirement options available for firefighters in Canada?

A: Firefighters in Canada have various retirement options, including pension plans, savings plans, and healthcare benefits. These options are typically provided by their respective fire departments or unions.

Q: How does the pension plan for firefighters work in Canada?

A: The pension plan for firefighters in Canada is typically a defined benefit plan, which means that the retirement income is based on a formula that takes into account the firefighter’s years of service and average salary. Contributions to the pension plan are made by both the firefighter and their employer throughout their career.

Q: Can firefighters in Canada retire early?

A: Yes, some firefighters in Canada may be eligible for early retirement. The eligibility criteria for early retirement may vary depending on the specific fire department or union policies. Early retirement options may have different impacts on pension payments, so it is important for firefighters to understand the implications before making a decision.

Q: Are there any additional retirement benefits available for firefighters in Canada?

A: Yes, in addition to pension plans, firefighters in Canada may have access to other retirement benefits such as post-retirement healthcare coverage, life insurance, and disability benefits. The availability and extent of these benefits can vary depending on the firefighter’s employer and the negotiated agreements.

Q: What should firefighters consider when planning for retirement?

A: Firefighters should consider various factors when planning for retirement. These factors include understanding their pension plan, evaluating their financial goals and needs in retirement, considering healthcare coverage options, and exploring additional sources of income or investments to supplement their retirement income.

Q: How can firefighters in Canada ensure a smooth transition into retirement?

A: To ensure a smooth transition into retirement, firefighters should engage in proactive retirement planning. This involves seeking advice from financial planners or retirement specialists, understanding the process and paperwork required for retirement, and considering any lifestyle adjustments or hobbies they wish to pursue after leaving the fire service.

Q: Can firefighters continue to work after retiring from firefighting in Canada?

A: Yes, firefighters in Canada can continue to work in other occupations or pursue part-time employment after retiring from firefighting. This additional income can supplement their retirement income and help them maintain an active and fulfilling lifestyle.

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