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Former Flame turned Oak Bay fire prevention officer chases third kidney transplant

Retiring Capt. Rob Kivell hands over duties to friend, coworker

A two-time kidney transplant recipient, fire Capt. Rob Kivell is on the hunt for his third.

Kivell retired from the Oak Bay Fire Department Jan. 31 after 30 years in fire service. Part of the timing for that – delayed by COVID-19 impacts on the department – is the pursuit of well-being after his return to dialysis.

He’s happy to have a 30-year career in firefighting, given his health – which ended his first career.

Kivell’s first career was on ice. He played junior hockey with the Victoria Cougars from 1982 to ’85 and was drafted in 1983 by the NHL’s Calgary Flames. He played with the organization for parts of three seasons, primarily with the American Hockey League’s Moncton Golden Flames, before the ailing kidneys killed the dream.

“It was fantastic while it was happening. It was devastating when it ended,” Kivell said.

But his brother, who was working for a Chilliwack fire department, helped him swap one team for another. After working as a firefighter there for a few years later, the department was closed and Kivell found work in Saskatchewan for a bit before settling into Oak Bay.

As Kivell prepares to leave his multi-faceted post in the hands of a friend, he keenly shifts conversation from himself to Lt. Brad Trenholm, the firefighter taking on the role.

Both firefighters started with the department on June 1, 1998 – it was Trenholm’s first firefighting job, whereas Kivell had six years experience under his belt.

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“I know Oak Bay is in good hands with him in the position,” Kivell said.

It’s a diverse role, one that encompasses complaint and fire investigations, building code inspection, community outreach and education. The fact there are so many avenues to follow excites Trenholm.

It’s a whole new world, moving from the suppression side of things. “I’m looking forward to learning,” he said.

The fire prevention and investigation is a department of one, though Kivell is quick to point out the firefighters on the suppression side of the building naturally become a part of the prevention team, particularly in educational components. So it’s something Trenholm has already been part of.

Kivell expects his friend and coworker will pick things up quickly. He also plans to be available to mentor Trenholm as his predecessor, the late Ken Gill, did for him. Trenholm somewhat jokingly notes a weekly coffee is part of the deal.

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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