Bruce Burrell reshapes the world around him to serve his community and empower the people he works with. “I grew up in an environment where no obstacle was too big to overcome; you just found a different way to do it,” he says.
As Calgary Fire Department’s chief and the director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, he provided clear and compassionate leadership during the worst flooding in Alberta’s history. Under his direction as the operational voice behind the 2013 Calgary floods, he guided 7,000 emergency responders, city staff and citizens to meet the high waters head on. He successfully oversaw an evacuation of 75,000 residents while preparing to rebuild the city before the waters even receded.
Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Burrell’s early career was directed at the business world. After completing a certificate in business administration he landed a job in human resources with Zellers. He aspired to work in accounting and earned his Registered Investment Advisor (now the Certified Management Accountant) designation. Outside of the office, he volunteered with the New Minas fire department before eventually trading office work for a full-time firefighter position in 1984.
With more than two decades’ experience in emergency management, Burrell rose through the ranks from firefighter to lieutenant, operational captain and finally manager of safety for Halifax Fire and Emergency. He was hired as chief of the Calgary Fire Department in 2005, and in that same year assumed the role as director of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency. Burrell retired from the department in 2014.
Burrell’s volunteer experience includes serving as of chairperson of the fire fund for Burns Memorial Fund, vice chairperson for the Burns Memorial Fund and past president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.
Burrell earned his MBA from Royal Roads University in 2012. He received the university’s Founder’s Award, which recognizes leadership, sustainability and personal development. He is the recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2012, the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation from the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) in 2012 and the CAFC Fire Chief of the Year award in 2012.