When this nomination was received, there was no question that Mark Pankhurst shines as a very deserving recipient of the FSWO 3E Award. He recognizes the importance of a work environment that fostered a positive culture of respect, equity, and continues to offer support to departments across the province as the Liaison for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs.
Throughout Ret. Chief Pankhurst's extensive career, he has proactively encouraged strong female representation through the ranks from recruit to leader. He has been an advocate for the celebration of women in male-dominated careers and has promoted the use of inclusive language in all forms of communication.
As Fire Chief of Rama Fire Rescue Service, he was a strong advocate for safety in this First Nations community, leading his department through a period of immense growth. At the time, emphasis was placed on ensuring that every member of the service became a certified firefighter in Ontario. The department then achieved a certificate of compliance from the Ontario Fire Marshal for meeting the provisions of the FPPA with respect to certification and training in all 3 lines of defence against fire.
During his time in Kawartha Lakes Fire Rescue Service, he took great pride recruiting and retaining female firefighters and was instrumental in maintaining an average of about 10% female staff, well about the national average of less than 5%.
Ret. Chief Pankhurst's ability to educate, encourage, and empower women has not only had a positive influence on women in the communities he has worked in but also in his personal life where his daughter has followed in his footsteps to pursue a fire service career. This in turn has benefitted FSWO where his daughter Kristy-Lynn has recently become an active and influential board member making a difference for the women who are coming behind her.
One of his nominators told FSWO that he pushed her to work outside of her comfort zone stating that “He has a way of quietly steering you to do more, learn more and be confident in what you are doing. I sometimes needed this encouragement when I was working on something that I was not as familiar with. He always demonstrated trust in my abilities and encouragement towards meeting my career goals which developed into a mutual respect. Empowerment comes by becoming stronger and more confident in your abilities and he has definitely been a person in my career to foster this”.
FSWO is pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s 3E Award is Retired Fire Chief Mark Pankhurst.