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Deryn Rizzi

2019 Fire Services Honouree

Deryn Rizzi is the first female fire chief in York Region. Her credentials are extensive including a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts from Queen’s University, a Master Certificate in Municipal Leadership from the Schulich School of Business, and a Disaster and Emergency Management diploma. Perhaps as important though is how she thoughtfully serves her greater community every day volunteering on the boards of directors for the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and Hospice Vaughan.

Her engaged leadership style and commitment to programs, such as Alarms for Life, demonstrate her multi-faceted focus on everything from innovation and education to public safety and assisting those in need. For example, Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS), in partnership with the Vaughan Food Bank, provides working smoke alarms to people that are less likely to have them. VFRS fire prevention public educators visit the food bank and connect with clients to teach them about fire prevention and the importance of having a working alarm. If the citizen does not have a smoke alarm, VFRS provides one free of charge and offers to install it. Staff also educate residents on carbon monoxide poisoning prevention and how they can protect themselves and their family. Through this program, they are reaching vulnerable people and empowering them to help prevent a tragedy.

Giving back began early for Deryn volunteering at her local foodbank when she was in high school. It was a great opportunity to work alongside likeminded people and do what she could to help improve her community. Deryn says it taught her to think of the needs of others and understand how her own actions could have the power to affect others.

Since 2016, Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service has run a female firefighter summer camp for teenage girls. Whether they are interested in a career in firefighting or other male-dominated occupation, or have strong ambitions, Deryn believes it’s important to support and encourage young women to be their best selves and follow their dreams. And Deryn has valued the chance to do so through this program and beyond.

Deryn exemplifies that the purpose of life is to serve, to show compassion, and to help others. She believes that each of us needs to be active participants in shaping our future. Deryn trusts that with hard work and teamwork, we can achieve miraculous things together; and we can inspire one another to pay it forward by sharing our experiences and showing how easy and rewarding it is to be of service to others. Kindness, in even the smallest of packages, can have an enormous impact.


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