CEMA Chief Tom Sampson Retires After 35 Years of Excellence in Public Service

Calgary Emergency Management Chief Tom Sampson has announced his retirement after a 35 year career in public service dedicated to protecting and helping the citizens of Calgary, our province and beyond.

“The two great loves in my life are my family and public service,” said Chief Sampson. “I am fortunate to have spent my career serving citizens, and in our line of work, that can mean time away from our families. They have always been understanding and supportive but I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with them now, and to be more present.”

Chief Sampson acknowledged that during a pandemic was a difficult time to make the decision to retire, and had extended his decision by several months until after the State of Local Emergency. However he said, “I know that my colleagues are ready to handle any emergencies that are thrown their way. This is what they train for, what they do. Their passion, their spirit and commitment to taking care of Calgarians on the worst of days makes me incredibly proud.”

“Calgary, you are in excellent hands,” he said.

Mayor Nenshi said, “The news of Chief Sampson’s retirement really brings up a lot of emotions. While I’m going to miss him immensely, and his departure makes me personally sad, I am very excited for him to move into a well-deserved retirement. The City of Calgary has been blessed to have him at the helm of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, providing incredible leadership through a long list of crises, not the least of which includes the 2013 flood and our recent battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter the challenge, Chief Sampson has risen to the occasion, putting the needs of Calgarians first. This is a great loss for our city, but I know that the legacy of professionalism and compassion he has shown will forever inspire future CEMA chiefs and all public servants.”

The City will be recruiting for a new CEMA Chief in the coming weeks, and Chief Sampson has agreed to transition to his replacement until his last day, November 30, 2020.

Sampson graduated with a President’s Honour Diploma, as an Advanced Care Paramedic and received an Alberta Award and the Dickson’s Bursary for Paramedicine, EMS. He joined The City as a Paramedic and spent 24 years in Emergency Medical Services, the last 10 as the Chief of EMS. He spent a year supporting a former City Manager as Chief of Staff and five years as a Deputy Fire Chief with the Calgary Fire Department where he built and oversaw The City’s disaster and emergency response team and assisted with business planning and budgeting, including driving the creation of the Emergency Operations Centre, which opened 6 months prior to the 2013 Southern Alberta floods.

He has spent the past five years as Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, leading The City’s response to multiple disaster events such as the 2013 flood, major snow and hail storms, fires that have displaced residents and the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also led efforts to support municipalities throughout Alberta to address such disasters such as wildfires near Slave Lake, Fort McMurray and High Level.

As CEMA Chief, Tom is one of three Commanders of Canada Task Force 2 (CAN-TF2), one of the six Federal HUSAR, second AB all, a ‘all-hazards’ disaster response team of over 150 rescue, medical, technical, engineering, command and support specialists who volunteer to be available to respond to large-scale events, emergencies and disasters.Through his work in CAN-TF2 he has been able to help many municipalities facing challenges. Responses to Slave Lake, Fort McMurray, the Chuckegg Creek wildfire have been the highlight. Tom will remain as a team member, sharing his expertise with the Alberta Community. CAN-TF2 is one of six nationally recognized teams that lead Canada's emergency response initiative in Urban Search and Rescue (USAR).

In 2015, he was a recipient of the Meritorious Service Decoration from the Governor General, which recognizes individuals who have performed an exceptional deed or activity that brought honour to their community or to Canada.

For more information on the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, visit