Young Guns: Entrepreneur and fire chief Bryden Pelletier is fuelled by passion

Grant Michael Solutions partners with organizations to support the implementation of tech advances in the firefighting industry.

This year kicked off with two major wins for Bryden Pelletier: not only was he named 2021 Firefighter of the Year by Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS), he was also appointed to the position of assistant fire chief of occupational health, safety and wellness (OHS) for the district.

At just 30 years old, Pelletier is one of the youngest fire chiefs in the 136-year history of VFRS, which includes 850 firefighters and is one of the busiest departments in the country. He credits the milestone to “really great individuals throughout my career in the fire department that mentored me, brought me up and taught me more than I ever could’ve imagined about firefighting.”

Darren Genge is one of those individuals.

Pelletier met fellow firefighter Genge right after joining VFRS in 2016. Their friendship flared into a strategic planning and data solutions firm called Grant Michael Solutions (GMS), which the duo launched in 2020 to bridge the gap between technology and first responders.

GMS partners with different organizations to support the implementation of tech advances in the industry and its co-founders have the experience to facilitate those changes. “Fire’s a very unique environment,” Pelletier maintains.

His background in business—including an MBA from Mount St. Mary’s University—is helpful during consultations: “Because we had the opportunity to go on so many response calls, having that business background [allows us to] say, Okay, this is how we interpret this data, and companies, this is how you should interpret it to direct your company appropriately.” His two-person team is able to offer better ways to use and understand data related to fire and emergency services, such as analyzing existing emergency trends.

Having served as one of six voting members on the COVID-19 Task Force—which kept local fire departments and firefighters functional and safe during the pandemic—Pelletier claims that his position as director of GMS often extends to applying research and technology to improve the physical and mental health of his colleagues.

6 a.m.

Pelletier hits the ground running at 5:50 a.m. Within the first 10 minutes of being awake, he’s already had his bulletproof coffee and is out the door to walk his field retriever, Scout.

A quick shower and some emails later, the assistant fire chief heads to Vancouver Fire Hall No. 1, located in Strathcona, which serves as both a working fire station and the department headquarters. No food until his 16-hour fasting window is over.

On a day with a fire emergency, Pelletier receives the dispatch call around 2 a.m. As the occupational health and safety chief, he’s immediately notified of ongoing operations and any fire-related injuries or three-alarm fires. If he’s not needed on the ground, he arrives at the hall by 6:30 a.m. to take over logistics, which often involves putting out figurative fires well into the evening. Days like that are consumed by immediate needs and concerns, and close with media interviews.

8 a.m.

Pelletier’s mornings are typically full of calls, check-ins and meetings. From liaising with battalion chiefs and the OHS department to planning operations for the day, he’s moving around fire halls, answering emails and attending meetings.

Prior to taking over as assistant fire chief, Pelletier was overseeing partnerships with various organizations to support local first responders. Those meetings still take up a lot of his mornings and afternoons. He’s often in touch with UBC’s Sports Cardiology BC regarding an ongoing project to develop a cardiovascular assessment for firefighters.


First responders like Pelletier might be fuelled by pure passion, because he admits that lunch is often “up in the air,” especially on days with an emergency. A packed salad is a good bet, although setting time aside to eat is unlikely.

7 p.m.

Big proponents of well-balanced home-cooked meals, the Pelletier family usually prepares dinners together, and it’s always full of farm-fresh goodies. Quality time with the family is important to the firefighter, even if he’s always on duty, no matter what.

“When they’re phoning at that time, that means something isn’t going right,” says Pelletier. “Dispatch has a different ringtone so it’s terrible waking up to that call.”

Even without a call, every day is a balancing act for the young fire chief, who tends to his responsibilities as director of GMS in the evenings and weekends: “If something needs to be done from a business perspective, I’ll make sure that’s handled within the day.”