Colwood’s longest serving chief set to retire

Colwood fire Chief Russ Cameron will retire from the department on Sept. 30 after serving as chief for more than 24 years.

Colwood fire Chief Russ Cameron is getting ready to hang up his helmet after providing more than 35 years of service and nearly 25 years as chief. His last day of work will be Sept. 30

Russ Cameron has spent most of his life near the corner of Sooke and Metchosin roads.

He grew up in a home near the intersection and now has spent the past 35.5 years working near by with Colwood Fire Rescue there too.

“I was born and raised in Colwood, I love the location and the whether here,” he said.

He has been the fire chief of Colwood Fire Rescue for 24.5 years and before that he was a firefighter with the department.

“I am not going to miss carrying a pager or getting up in the middle night to deal with emergencies,” Cameron said. “I am going to miss all the great staff and the department and the great group of volunteer firefighters.”

He first became at volunteer firefighter with the department at age 18. Before working as a career firefighter he landed a job with the Ministry of Transportation at the Victoria Airport working as a crash and fire rescue specialist. He did that for seven years, all the while volunteering with Colwood department.

“This is my life and it’s been my career. I’ve lived and breathed this for 24 hours a day for 35 years,” Cameron said. “It’s more than just a career, it’s a lifestyle. I am going to welcome the slower pace of retirement.”

Cameron is retiring because he is turning 55 years old on Sept. 25, he will hang up his helmet five days later on Sept. 30.

“In this job I’ve learned you have to adapt to change, change is good if it’s managed in a correct way,” Cameron said adding, “I’ve also learned that people will always amaze me, both good and bad.”

He hopes as he leaves the department to pass on the message to the residents of Colwood to keep emergency plans in place, drive safety and the keep fresh batteries in smoke alarms.

“People should be more self sufficient with their own safety,” he cautions.

With his retirement approaching all that is planned for Cameron is some “rest and relaxation,” he said. “I am going to pursuer other interested and I have lots of hobbies.”

With more time on his hands Cameron is really excited to put more hours in restoring his antique vehicles. He has a 1926 Model T and a 1930 Model A.  He will also be spending more time at his cabin on Cowichan Lake.

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Colwood’s upcoming new chief

Kerry Smith, Colwood Fire Rescue’s deputy chief, will be taking over the reins of the department at end of day Sept. 30. Smith has been with the department for decades.

“I have worked hand in hand with Chief Cameron for 23 years, ” said Smith. “The day-to-day interaction will certainly be missed.”

The two men have worked together for so long and have similar views on the department’s operations and Smith said there won’t be a lot changes made.

“Chief Cameron has taught me to pay attention to detail, to be myself and hold myself accountable,” Smith said.

Colwood Fire Rescue has seven career firefighters and 30 volunteer firefighters.

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Did you know?

Fire chief Russ Cameron delivered the Highway News Review, now called the Goldstream News Gazette, from 1969 to 1972.