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Fire News: People Profile – Howard Holzapfel

    Fire News    February 13, 2018

When did you come to Salt Spring? And, what bought you here?

We wanted to simplify our life, and we fell in love with this island. We had planned to stay for one year, and we are now beginning our ninth year here.

One of the main reasons my wife and I had chosen Salt Spring was because of the hospital, high school, and full service fire department. I never anticipated relying on that department so soon: Within a few weeks of our arrival, we had an emergency with our young son and then, a week later, with our young daughter. The firefighters who responded were wonderful and assuaged my fear of living on an island with their timeliness, knowledge, and compassion. This experience reinforced the wisdom of our decision to make Salt Spring our home.

This bittersweet personal experience motivated me to give back to the community by joining the fire department. In 2012, I became a Field Incident Technician.

Why did you decide to become a Fire Trustee?

I have spent my entire life leading companies from troubled financial times into fiscal stability and profitability. My experience includes transforming a $13 million company to a $31 million company in three years as receiver and successfully troubleshooting failing projects at the University of California, San Francisco. As a Strategic Planning Board member of Sonoma Valley Hospital, I convinced them to renovate rather than building a new hospital – saving the community millions of dollars.

On a more local note, the contributions I have made on Salt Spring include:

  • As its Treasurer, saving the Salt Spring Island Sailing Club $26,000 per year by re- negotiating the foreshore lease.
  • As a member of the BC Ferry’s Advisory Committee: Gaining permission for through fare passengers to directly board the ferry at Swartz Bay without standing in line for another ticket. Succeeding in getting priority placement for Skeena Queen motorists to assist them in making the Tsawwaassen connection.
  • Allowing Experience Card users to top up only as much as needed for their fare instead of being forced to fully-load their card.

What do you hope to accomplish as a Fire Trustee?

Fire Trustees need to prove that they are making progress, aware of weaknesses, and willing to engage in an on-going conversation with the community. With some huge financial decisions in the not-too-distant future, we, as Trustees, need to prove that we are fiscally-responsible by negotiating with wisdom, seeking good used equipment whenever possible, and building the most cost-effective new firehall possible.

Howard Holzapfel

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