Blue Line

Virtual Event
InterOp Canada 2023
October 11, 2023 at 11:30am ET

Panel: The growing threat of heat emergencies

Moderator: Dr. Rhidian Lewis, Associate Dean Enterprise and Employability, University Apprenticeships Lead, University of Bedfordshire


  • Sam Greif, Deputy City Manager, Plano, Texas
  • Jamie Coutts, fire service leader, consultant and former chief for Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service
  • Supt. Peter Tsui, E Division Intelligence Officer, RCMP / GRC
Climate change is triggering volatile and extreme weather events. Heat emergencies are an increasing threat involving multi-agency response. Heat emergencies can be triggered by wildfires, which are also on the rise. From an interoperability perspective, heat emergencies can cover a vast geographic area and involve possibilities for power or cell phone tower outages, cooling station requirements, special care for vulnerable persons and the homeless community, and ultimately have the potential to be a mass casualty event.

Dr. Rhidian Lewis, Associate Dean Enterprise and Employability, University Apprenticeships Lead, University of Bedfordshire
Following a career in Project Management and Management Consultancy Rhidian joined academia in 2002 where he taught a variety of management and skills based modules at Undergraduate and Postgraduate level. From 2006 -2013 Rhidian was the Director of the Centre for Fire Service Research and Professional Development which spearheaded the development of management development programmes for aspiring Fire Service Managers across the UK. Leading on a number of fire service research projects Rhidian was responsible for assessing the critical success factors in supporting inter-agency working within Merseyside as part of a multiagency approach to crime reduction. Further work with Merseyside FRS including identifying the key criteria in the establishment and maintenance of fire service and community partnerships support a pro-active approach to fire reduction. Rhidian has undertaken a number of consulting projects with the Fire and Rescue Services of Essex and Cumbria to review the efficacy of the interventionist approach to reducing arson amongst young people. These projects established the role of such interventions and mechanisms by which key stakeholders including, Police, Fire Service and Social Services could work to prevent both offending and re-offending.

Rhidian has working with Fire Service reprensentative bodies to develop management and IT competencies including the Retained Firefighters Union and Networking Women in the Fire Service.

Rhidian joined the University of Bedfordshire in 2013 where after a brief period as postgraduate portfolio leader for the Law School he became the Head of the Department of Strategy and Management.

Rhidian was appointed Associate Dean in 2017 and has since this time led on the development of educational and consulting engagements between employers and the University of Bedfordshire.  Currently on secondment to the Office of the Vice Chancellor Rhidian now holds the post of  University Apprenticeships Lead as is responsible for all areas of business development,  operational management and regulatory compliance, for apprenticeships across all Faculties.

Sam Greif (pronounced GRYF), Deputy City Manager, Plano, TX   
As Deputy City Manager Sam Greif departmental responsibilities include: Animal Services, Emergency Management, Fire-Rescue, Neighborhood Services, Police and Public Safety Communications

Sam has served on numerous boards and committees at the state and national levels. He is currently the Chairman of the International CAD Consortium, Chairman of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee for the IAFC, and is a past chairman of the Medical City Plano Board of Trustees. In addition, he served eight years on the Tarrant County 911 Board of Managers. Sam is a graduate of Leadership Plano’s Class 35 and is a member of the Plano Rotary Club. He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the International City/County Management Association. Sam began his career as a paramedic in 1982. In 1985 he joined the Fort Worth Fire department as a firefighter where he worked his way up through the ranks to assistant chief of operations. He retired after 30 years of service. In June 2015, after an extensive nationwide search, Sam was selected as the Fire Chief for the City of Plano a position he held for more than six years. Sam holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fire Science, a bachelor’s degree in BAAS (focus on leadership) from Midwestern State University, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Texas-Arlington, Fire Service Executive Development Institute, and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.

Fire Chief Jamie Coutts
Jamie Coutts is the fire chief for the City of Chestermere in Alberta and a consultant with Sea Hawk who works with fire departments to evaluate and fix problems within their systems as well as provide municipal and First Nation leadership training. Coutts has delivered talks to 468 fire halls across Canada over the past 10 years as well as 22 talks at disaster management conferences. During his former tenure as fire chief for Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service,  he had the opportunity to lead a five-hall, 125 member regional fire service, and a search and rescue team. In 2011 The Slave Lake Wildland Fire burned down 440 homes in his region, including 35 per cent of the Town of Slave Lake. This disaster prompted major changes and challenges. Over the next eight years, they rebuilt two fire halls, and created a FireSmart crew (only one of its kind in Canada). They also built a 12 acre “Disaster Village” training site and began training people to be prepared to assist all of Alberta with disasters. This help included the  2013 Southern Alberta floods, eight train derailments, 2015 High Level fires, 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and the High Level complex fires in 2019. Their constant interagency training and exercises helped prepare thousands of responders in Alberta and beyond. Coutts is an active member of Canadian Volunteer Fire Service Association (CVFSA) and the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association. He is host of the Podcast – [2]Growing Up Fire  and hosted television crews to film two seasons of Discovery Canada’s “Hellfire Heroes” 2018 and 2019.

Supt. Peter Tsui, E Division Intelligence Officer, RCMP / GRC
Supt. Peter Tsui is an RCMP officer currently posted to the B.C. RCMP Headquarters. Tsui has recently managed numerous emergency events as the Director of the RCMP Emergency Operations Center, which includes B.C. atmospheric flooding, B.C. Wildfires, COVID-19 response, and numerous public order events. Tsui has extensive experience in major events that would include several Olympic Games, G8/G20 Summits, Toronto Pan Am Games, and as the mobilization coordinator for the 2022 Papal Visit to Canada.