Firefighters’ history of giving takes a step forward

The Oak Bay Fire Department was granted charitable status last month

Oak Bay firefighter Greg Swan is pleased that the Oak Bay Fire Department is being recognized as a registered charitable foundation.

Oak Bay firefighter Greg Swan is pleased that the Oak Bay Fire Department is being recognized as a registered charitable foundation.

The Oak Bay Fire Department has a long history of giving back to the community and is now building on that tradition with the establishment of a registered charitable foundation.

The firefighters were granted charitable status last month and are excited that the new designation will improve the way they serve the community through their volunteer efforts. “We’re a professional department, but we volunteer a lot of hours to give back to the community.” said Greg Swan, the Executive Director of the Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Society. “This is going to make us even more effective in that volunteer work.”

That’s not to say that the firefighters haven’t been effective in their past fundraising activities. In fact, their efforts have demonstrated a remarkable connection to the community they serve.

One example of that service came at the very beginning of 2012 when the firefighters operated a Christmas tree recycling program. It was the 15th year for the project which managed to raise $3,200. The money was put back into the community – recycled, so to speak – through a series of $500 scholastic bursaries awarded by the firefighters to students of Oak Bay High.

Last November the firefighters joined the Movember movement and grew mustachios (and collected donations) for prostate cancer research and education. They raised $6,500 during that campaign.

And it’s not always just about money. The Kiwanis tearoom project was taken on by the firefighters, who volunteered their off-hour time and labour to repair the leaking windows at the Willows Park tearoom. They also installed insulation and vapour barrier to the iconic location.

“Our major fundraising, though, has been done through cooperation with the three other professional fire departments of Saanich, Victoria and Esquimalt,” said Swan. “We’ve done some tremendous work together.”

The firefighters cooperate to coordinate several major fundraisers and then donate the money, primarily to four major charities, said Swan. In 2011, the Professional Firefighters of Greater Victoria Community Foundation, of which the Oak Bay firefighters are members – Swan sits on its board – pledged $250,000 over 10 years to Victoria General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.

“We’ve also made ongoing contributions to the Mustard Seed (Food Bank) in April, when we bought them a cube van to help in food distribution,” said Swan. “We’ve set up the ‘Firefighters for Fox’ to support the Terry Fox Foundation and the guys shave their heads for donations. Last year we gave over $8,000 to that cause.”

And of course the firefighters contribute to the Firefighters Burn Fund.

All this fundraising is accomplished through an assortment of large events organized by the four participating groups of firefighters in the Greater Victoria area.

“Once a year some of our guys strap on the skates to play past NHL greats in an old timers hockey game,” said Swan. “We also put on a magic show (with professional magicians) and in December we join with firefighters from the mainland to host the Bright Lights in Stanley Park.”

The Stanley Park event sees firefighters from across the Lower Mainland and the Island set up and take down a display of lights that involves more than a million lights. It’s a daunting task, said Swan, but it’s a great family event and has the added bonus of raising even more money for the charitable work of the firefighters.

Another project, the annual ‘boot drive’ raises money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada. That drive raised nearly $65,000 on lower Vancouver Island in 2012. Since 1991 that drive has raised more than $1.2 million.

“It’s all about giving back to the communities that we live and work in,” said Swan. “And now that we have our own charitable status, we’ll be able to do even more.”

The establishment of the Charitable Fund will allow the firefighters of Oak Bay to accept larger individual and corporate donations and issue tax receipts for charitable donations to their foundation. “It’s just taken us to the next level,” said Swan. “We want to keep giving back to the community and this gives us the chance to do it more effectively.”

For more information on the charitable work of the Oak Bay firefighters, go to oakbayfirefighters.com.

Just Posted

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

Victoria Truth Centre and Long-term Inmates Now in the Community (L.I.N.C.) Society are hoping to replicate in Langford the format used on Emma’s Farm in Mission, pictured here. (Patrick Penner/Black Press Media)
Victoria Truth Centre hopes to grow transformative justice in Langford

Purchase proposal would see offenders, survivors and families work on organic vegetable farm

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

Mural artist Paul Archer will soon begin work on a piece on the rear of a building at 100 Burnside Road West. (Gorge Tillicum Community Association)
Back of Burnside building in Saanich to feature mural of hope and positivity

Artist Paul Archer says subject will inspire memories, depict children’s future, sunshine, flowers

The stretch of trail north of Royal Bay Secondary connecting to Painters Trail at Murray’s Pond will be closed temporarily this week for invasive species removal. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood trail behind Royal Bay Secondary temporarily closed for invasive species removal

Cloure in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 10 a.m. Friday this week

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Most Read