Former Cowichan Bay Fire Rescue chief Dave Ferguson has been honoured with the 2017 Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Lifetime Achievement Award.
It’s the first time the prestigious award — many say the highest honour a volunteer firefighter can receive — has been awarded to a firefighter in B.C.
Facebook’s firefighting community exploded upon hearing the news, with 140 shares and 171 comments and well-wishes on the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association’s page about the award recipient.
Two of the more poignant posts were from Cow Bay firefighters, including one from his son, Cam Ferguson.
“I am so proud to call him Dad. I am so lucky to have this mentor, this leader, this resource only a text or a phone call or a short drive away. I aim to hopefully accomplish at least a fraction of what he has done for the fire service. He is truly deserving of this honor and I will continue to admire and look up to him for the remainder of my career in the fire service,” Cam wrote.
It was a family affair for Ferguson who served alongside not just his son but his son-in-law, Mike King, as well.
Ferguson Sr. joined the department on May 10, 1981 and went on to spend 27 years, seven months and 21 days with the team. He quickly rose through the ranks becoming captain in 1986, deputy chief in 1987 and chief in 1999. He retired on Dec. 31, 2008.
During his career, Ferguson responded to over 2,100 documented emergency calls.
His experience, particularly his nine years as chief, has been a benefit to the fire crew.
“My first experience in the fire service was to serve under Chief Ferguson, 12 years later I still find myself asking him for advice,” wrote Cowichan Bay Fire Department captain Steve McCaffery. “You’re always there for us Chief. This couldn’t have gone to a better person.”
Ferguson will receive his award in Wolfville, Nova Scotia on Sept. 30 during the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association’s annual general meeting and educational presentations at Acadia University.
While he’s been retired from active operational service for some years now, he just can’t stay away. He still serves as an auxiliary member and works on initiatives like fundraising for Muscular Dystrophy Canada.
“Being a firefighter in Canada is something that has to be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated,” he said after learning he’d earned the award.
“You become a member of a team of committed individuals who give of their personal time to learn the skills needed to look after their neighbours in the event of an emergency. Little did I know how the friendships created, and the opportunities to serve the broader fire service in other ways, would impact my life, and the life of my family, in the most positive and satisfying way imaginable.”
Check out the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association’s Facebook page.