Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)

Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

As a firefighter, one gets to know well the neighbourhoods and people in their community.

And Colwood Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Greg Chow knows them better than most, with 38 years under his belt. He began in 1982 as a fresh-faced 16-year-old volunteer, and since 2000 he’s been a full-time professional firefighter.

“I like to say I won the lottery when I got hired on,” Chow says. Asked what he enjoys most about his work, he is quick to reply:

“That sense of giving back to the community and helping out at the time people need it most,” he says. “When you get that call and you help somebody or save somebody, save their property, that feels good. Knowing that we’ve done a good job and protected the community as well as we could over the years (is satisfying).”

Firefighting and defending the community runs in the family. Chow’s father, Alec, joined the department as a volunteer in the 1950s, and two uncles also served. A third uncle, Harry Chow, served on the department’s board of trustees and was mayor of Colwood from 1987 to 1993.

Greg Chow has been married more than 30 years and has two grown daughters, aged 27 and 24. Neither has expressed a desire to get into firefighting, but “if they wanted to, I would fully support them,” he says.

Speaking of non-traditional roles, Chow is proud of the fact the department has three active female firefighters on the volunteer corps. Women have been a part of the Colwood crew since the late 1970s and early ‘80s, he adds.

Looking back on his career, Chow still remembers his first call, a house fire where he and other junior firefighters were assigned hose-pulling duties. His first time entering a structure fire came at age 18, when he joined former fire chief Russ Cameron on the hose line.

READ MORE: Local Heroes shine on the West Shore

Supporting volunteers – teaching the next generation of firefighters – has been key during his time with the department and as he moved up the ladder. After being hired full-time in 2000, he was promoted to captain in 2002 and became assistant chief in charge of training in 2015.

Now, when not heading out to a fire scene, he serves the City of Colwood and its residents in more of an administrative role, representing the department with the Capital Region Emergency Services Telecommunications (CREST) and acting as a liaison when technical issues arise. The longtime tech fan jokes that he is “the computer guy” at home.

Like other firefighters, he keeps the pager close when in town to ensure a fast response. Enjoying a true holiday, then, means getting out of town and he loves to travel. Chow caught “the cruising bug” some years back, to the point where he now operates a cruise tour business on the side. He hopes public health orders loosen next year to allow cruising to resume.

His advice for people eyeing firefighting in a volunteer role or as a profession?

“If they’re looking to get into it, follow their dream,” he says. “It is a very rewarding line of work and career. It takes time to get in, and it’s not for everybody, but I would not trade it in for the world.”

Assistant Chief Greg Chow is our Local Hero of the Year.

Nominations for the 2022 Local Hero Awards West Shore open on Feb. 25. To learn more, go to hero.goldstreamgazette.com.

READ MORE: 2021 Local Hero Awards West Shore


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Local Hero Awards

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
Woman returned to West Shore on warrant after crashing in Oak Bay

Smashed car windows, stolen outboard, missing diamond round out police briefs

Sidney council approved a broad package of tax relief measures, but concerns about its timing and effectiveness remain. (Black Press Media File).
President of cannabis company considers legal action against Sidney

Sidney already lost one legal action by another cannabis retailer in summer 2020

A photograph of the real firearm beside the replica firearm seized by VicPD in the early hours of April 18. (Courtesy VicPD)
Police seize loaded firearm, drugs during traffic stop in Victoria

Officers find cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl along with loaded handgun

Colwood restaurants can use city property for patios. (Black Press Media file photo)
Temporary patios back on for Colwood restaurants

Council voted to extend temporary permits to 2022

Sidney Volunteer Fire Department as well as Sidney/North Saanich RCMP and BC Ambulance responded to a dryer fire on Orchard Avenue. (Sidney Volunteer Fire Department/Twitter)
Dryer fire doused in Sidney

Cause of Monday afternoon remains under investigation

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Ladysmith-area Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read