EDMONTON – An interim fire chief has been selected in Thorsby, after the village’s long-serving fire chief was let go nearly two weeks ago.

Thorsby’s newly-named Chief Administrative Officer Jason Gariepy announced Saturday that Nicholas Maryka has been named interim fire chief.

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“Maryka brings paid and volunteer firefighting experience, energy, and an openness to work with the Village of Thorsby and the County of Leduc as interim fire chief,” Gariepy said. “He wants the department to continue to be volunteer-based, focused on partnerships, and providing the highest level of service to Thorsby and the district.”

“My goal is to make it the best department it can be,” Maryka added.

Maryka – a Thorsby resident and seven-year member of the village’s fire department – will fill the shows of outgoing chief Norm Osness. He was abruptly let go nearly two weeks ago for what the village’s outgoing CAO called “an internal matter.”

As a show of solidarity, nearly 20 volunteer firefighters stepped down from their positions, leaving the community without its own fire department.

READ MORE: Thorsby’s volunteer firefighters say they won’t return until fire chief is reinstated

In the days that followed, Thorsby paid five firefighters from Leduc to staff its fire hall. However, the solution was not financially viable and on Monday the community said it would now have to rely on neighbouring municipalities to provide services in the case of a fire.

Gariepy says Maryka’s position will be on an interim basis until he completes a six-month period as fire chief.

In the meantime, Maryka will be responsible for selecting and appointing all fire department officers. Gariepy says he has the authority to reinstate firefighters who resigned from the department.

“The volunteer firefighters provided an extensive 16-point list of requests,” Gariepy said. “I will work with the new interim fire chief to understand these concerns and discuss how we can move forward.”

“My first step is to reach out to the community, as well as my colleagues on the fire department, and ask them to put management issues aside so we can protect and serve the community,” Maryka added.

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