A longtime firefighter from Grunthal will soon take over the role of chaplain for the Hanover Fire Department. 

At Wednesday's Hanover Council meeting, councillors voted in favour of creating this new position. Hanover Fire Chief Paul Wiebe says this is something they have been exploring for the past year. He notes the Hanover Fire Department has 75 members and their chaplain will look after the needs of firefighters and their families.

"We feel that this could be beneficial to the mental health and emotional health of our firefighters," explains Wiebe. "And just help with some of their pastoral needs and other needs that go along with that."

Carl Reimer has been named as Hanover Fire Department's first chaplain. Reimer has more than 26 years of experience as a firefighter, currently serving as Deputy Chief for Station One in Grunthal, where he has served his entire career. 

Wiebe says Reimer comes into the position with a lot of knowledge in firefighting and knows firsthand what firefighters deal with on a daily and weekly basis. 

"When we were looking at Carl as a candidate for this, there was a lot of respect and appreciation for him and a lot of support to have Carl be our first chaplain," shares Wiebe. "So, we're excited about it and we're really looking forward to what we can do with him in that role."

Reimer says he has felt overwhelming support in taking on this role and is very excited about the opportunity. 

"I feel very honoured," says Reimer. "It would be great if we didn't need this role, but I am looking forward to working in this capacity."

Reimer says he has built a good rapport with the crew in Grunthal, having served there for so many years. He adds they also do a lot of training with the other halls, which has allowed him to also get to know firefighters from the other communities in Hanover. 

Reimer says his new role as chaplain will fit in very well with what he does for a living. Reimer is Discipleship Pastor at Crossview Church in Steinbach. 

"Day to day I meet with people. I think to put it bluntly we live in a messy world and people have a lot of mess going on, so I hear a lot of that," says Reimer. "I feel I have empathy. I have a heart for that. It just feels like I'm just able to bring that into the firefighter service."

Reimer says as chaplain, he will be able to help firefighters with more than just working through some of their experiences from emergency calls. 

"We want them to be healthy," he says. "So in order for them to do well at responding then they need to know that there is someone that they can talk to and someone that cares and might be able to help them with things that are going on outside of the fire service."

And not only firefighters, but Reimer says his role could also see him work with their families. 

Reimer says there is a belief that exists that suggests firefighters are tough and should be able to handle anything. But he wants firefighters to know that if there is something they are struggling with, they can reach out and he will be that listening ear. 

"We always talk about the brotherhood of firefighters," says Reimer. "Yeah, we are a family and so let's help each other through that. I'm excited that I get to be a part of that."

Meanwhile, Wiebe says throughout the years the Hanover Fire Department has definitely seen firefighters step down after attending a traumatic call. He notes this sometimes happens after a firefighter attends a call for someone they know or attends a call that involves a child. But Wiebe says after they leave the department, they often lose communication. 

"It has happened, and we'd like to stop that from happening," says Wiebe. "We'd just like to help them deal with this, like to help them heal some of those wounds that they encounter on these calls."

According to Wiebe, for a fire department to have a chaplain is certainly not uncommon in Manitoba. He notes Hanover will model its program after other departments in the province. The plan is for Reimer to assume the position on September 1st. 

Hanover Reeve Jim Funk says he understands the need for a chaplain within their fire department, noting this is definitely something worth approving. Funk made those comments Wednesday after Council approved the position.