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Duncan fire chief Mike McKinlay retires

City appoints Wray Watson to replace McKinlay
Duncan’s new deputy fire chief Leanne Closson, second from left, was one of two recipients of the city’s Scroll of Honour in 2018. Fire chief Mike McKinlay, fourth from the left, is retiring and is being replaced by Wray Watson. The other two people in this picture from 2018, from left, are Duncan councillor Stacy Middlemiss and Danielle Rankin. (File photo)

After serving with the Duncan fire department for 34 years, with the last 13 of those years in the capacity of fire chief, Mike McKinlay has retired.

Since 1999, McKinlay has served as 3rd lieutenant, 2nd captain, deputy fire chief, and in 2008, he was appointed fire chief. McKinlay’s great-grandfather, James Rutledge, was one of the first fire chiefs of the Duncan fire department, and his great uncles Owen and Bob Evans were long-serving firefighters, Owen acting as deputy chief for a time.

“Mike has been a tremendous leader, following in the footsteps of Glenn Mackie who was fire chief when he first started with the fire department,” a press release from the City of Duncan said.

“The demands on fire chiefs have been ever increasing with the changing complexities and requirements of the fire service. Mike has been up to the challenge of leading the department through these, as well as through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing opioid crisis. Mike will be missed by all and we take this opportunity to publicly thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the City of Duncan.”

Wray Watson has been appointed to replace McKinlay as fire chief.

In 2008, Watson was appointed to the position of 3rd lieutenant for the fire department, in 2012 as lieutenant, 2014 as captain, in 2017 as assistant fire chief, and was appointed deputy chief in 2020.

Duncan city council presented Watson with a Long-Term Service Award for 30 years of dedicated service to the fire department in 2017.

“We wish to publicly congratulate Wray Watson for being appointed to the position of fire chief for the Duncan fire department,” the city said in the press release.

Leanne Closson was appointed by the city to replace Watson as its deputy fire chief.

Closson joined the fire department as a volunteer firefighter in 2005, was appointed to the position of captain in 2017, and became assistant fire chief in 2020.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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