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Meet the Fire Chief

Fire Chief Len Garis

Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis joined the Surrey Fire Service in 1998 and has worked in the fire service and related fields since 1980. In 2010, he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research. In June of 2011, he was elected as President of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC. He has also been a member of the FIREfighting in Canada editorial advisory board since 2005.

Chief Garis believes strongly that long-range vision, planning and innovation can reduce costs, improve efficiency and ultimately enhance services and public safety. This notion is supported by international studies, including Rising to the Challenge, a 2008 report by the United Kingdom’s Audit Commission on improving fire service efficiency, and Global Concepts in Residential Fire Safety, a 2009 report by System Planning Corporation’s Tri-Data division about best practices in Canada and other countries.

In April of 2009, Chief Garis provided evidence for a study on the state of organized crime in Canada to the Standing Committee on Justice & Human Rights. In November 2009, Chief Garis testified to the Standing Senate Committee on the topic of Bill C-15, to increase the minimum mandatory sentencing for serious drug offences.

Fire Chief's Initiatives

On behalf of the City of Surrey, Chief Garis regularly initiates scientific research and data collection with the objective of developing alternate methods to address public safety challenges and improve service delivery and efficiencies.

Several of these initiatives have garnered awards and recognition for the City of Surrey in the past decade, including the Union of B.C. Municipalities Community Excellence Awards (for four different programs), a Flame Award from the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C., a Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Award for Public Safety, and recognition from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

By continuing to bring innovative programs to Surrey and share them with other communities, Chief Garis is working to achieve his vision of a modern, progressive fire service – one that is led by evidence-based decision-making and is unfettered by traditional insular perspectives.

Message from the Chief

Surrey is a strong vibrant city – the second largest in B.C. and the 12th largest in Canada. We’re also one of the fastest-growing cities in the province and in our country, with hundreds of new residents moving here each month.

That kind of growth brings its own unique challenges. Surrey Fire Service aggressively tackles these challenges with a creative, modern approach that embraces best practices, evidence-based decision-making, long-range planning, and cooperation between departments and agencies.

Our initiatives have included:

  • Reducing public safety risks and drug crimes through Electrical and Fire Safety Inspections of marijuana grow operations (an award-winning program now widely used in Metro Vancouver).
  • Reducing residential fires and identifying human trafficking cases through the HomeSafe program.
  • More efficient deployment of apparatus and staff through an automated planning tool.
  • Reducing staffing costs through a program that closely manages staff absenteeism,
  • Reducing duplication in vehicle accident responses through cooperation with Surrey RCMP.
  • Improving response to high-rise fires through research and best practices.

These are challenging economic times. With the City’s support, Surrey Fire Service will continue to seek out innovative approaches that will enhance our service and keep our community safe, while improving efficiencies and managing costs.

Learn more about the Surrey Fire Service.

Related Research & Resources

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Research & Resources: Fire Prevention & Community Outreach

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Research & Resources: Marijuana Grow Operations

Browse research, reports and articles concerning Marijuana Grow Operations.

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Research & Resources: Emergency Service Management

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