Western Staff and Leaders' ConferenceWestern University

Darby Allen

darby allenCourage Inside the Fire

Wed. Feb 21, 9:00am - 10:15am
Social Science Centre (SSC), room 2050

The 2016 Alberta wildfire was the costliest disaster in Canadian history—destroying 2,400 buildings and homes and displacing the entire community of Fort McMurray. And through it all was Fire Chief Darby Allen. A figure of stability to his community, a reliable source of information to the press, and a humble leader, Chief Allen became the human face of both incredible tragedy and courage. With Allen’s leadership, Fort McMurray was successfully evacuated—and the fire claimed zero lives. How did he maintain composure in life-or-death circumstances? What is it like to endure, and overcome, a disaster of such magnitude in one’s own backyard? Hear Chief Allen's inside story of this incredible event.


A native of Birmingham, England, Darby Allen worked as a firefighter for the Hampshire Fire Brigade before emigrating to Canada in 1990. He began work as a firefighter with the Calgary Fire Department in 1992, progressing to the role of Training Officer and then to Assistant Deputy Chief of Operations. He joined the Fort McMurray Fire Service in 2009, where he became Regional Fire Chief in 2013.