Editorial: When you need them, Oak Bay’s firefighters are there

Much has changed for the local firefighters over the years, but not their commitment to the community

24/7.

365.

However you count the hours and days, when you need them, Oak Bay’s firefighters are there.

This week – Fire Prevention Week – we take special note, as firefighters once again draw our attention to importance of working smoke detectors, knowing how to use your fire extinguisher, having a plan to get out alive, and innumerable other potentially life-saving steps we too often take for granted.

And when they’re not on the road responding to calls of fire, hazardous materials, medical emergencies, or instructing community groups on the importance of fire safety, you’ll frequently see the 27 members of the Oak Bay Fire Department out and about in the community.

From fundraising for local schools and delivering Santas Anonymous hampers to reviewing building plans for fire safety concerns and teaching life-saving CPR courses, your firefighters have time and again proven themselves an invaluable community resource since first setting up shop on Monterey Avenue in 1938.

What’s changed over the years? Technology has significantly changed how the department communicates wth each other and the public. It’s also made the tools of the trade, like the new jaws-of-life, much more user-friendly than their earlier incarnations – though all were tools those first 11 Oak Bay firefighters couldn’t have imagined using in 1938.

Just how the department’s newest tools came to be also tells a story. Fundraising by the Oak Bay Kiwanis and Athlone Travel – with the generosity of residents – made the purchases possible and spoke to the importance the firefighters have in this community.

It’s not only that they put themselves at risk for our safety, but also that they go out of their way to be involved in our schools, organizations, businesses and homes. In our lives.

“We are involved in all aspects of the community and I think that’s key to what the public expects,” says Oak Bay  Fire Chief Dave Cockle. “We are a more community-based department that we ever were.

“We think it’s very important the community has involvement with the fire department so the first time you meet us is not when you need us.”