As it celebrated its 75th anniversary, the Oak Bay Fire Department also honoured some of its longtime firefighters and one who died in the line of duty.
Assistant Fire Chief Fred Briggs had just returned from a call when he collapsed at the fire hall from a heart attack. His fellow firefighters attempted to resuscitate him but Briggs died.
That was Nov. 13, 1969. Forty-three years later, his three daughters shed tears again as their dad was honoured by the department he loved.
Fire Chief Gerry Adam said Briggs, “was one of the most respected men. A guy who never had a bad word about anybody.”
Briggs, an avid golfer, likely died happy his family says, as he got a hole-in-one on the Uplands Golf course on the morning he died.
“I’ve only met two people in my life that you could say were men’s men,” said former firefighter Glen Robbins. “He was one of them.”
Robbins worked with Briggs when he was just a rookie. He looked up to the older man. “He was a giant of a man. Very quiet. At the time, I was a young buck and he took me (under his wing) and treated me like a son.”
Briggs death was not considered to be in the line of duty at the time. A change in attitude towards health risks taken by firefighters precipitated the ceremony.
The Oak Bay Fire Department dedicated an oak tree at the fire hall in his memory, to recognize his contributions and his service to the department.
Briggs’ name has also been added to the firefighter memorial at the rear of the B.C. Legislature.
During the ceremony, five Oak Bay firefighters were also honoured for their contributions to the department. Deputy Chief David Cockle, Assistant Chief Colin Mantik, Assistant Chief Cameron Thomson, Captain Ken Gill and Fire Inspector Robert Kivell were all given long service medals.
Go to the Oak Bay News’ Facebook page to see photos of the ceremony.