Metchosin firefighters Capt. Jason Humphries and Capt. Eric Meredith marched in a procession through Enderby streets last week to honour fallen firefighter Capt. Daniel Botkin.
“We didn’t know what to expect but we went there for the (Enderby) fire department and for the family,” Humphries said. More than 1,000 firefighters from across B.C. and Alberta attended.
Fire departments from across Greater Victoria and the Island attended the Jan. 5 funeral, including Langford, Colwood, View Royal and Metchosin.
Capt. Greg Chow from Colwood Fire Rescue attended the service with four other members of the department. This is the second funeral service Chow attended for a fallen firefighter.
“It was very moving. (Enderby) is a tight-knit community,” Chow said. “I can’t imagine being in that situation, you hope it never happens.”
Prior to the funeral service, held at the community hockey arena, volunteer and career firefighters marched two kilometres through town.
“The people of Enderby were overwhelmed,” Meredith said. “(Botkin) had quite an impact on the community.”
“There must have been everyone in town lined up along the street,” Humphries said. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd or among the people marching.”
Langford deputy chief Kerry Zado and two other Langford firefighters attended as well.
Zado recalled the firefighters getting ready to march in rows of three, but with the overwhelming amount of emergency personnel, rows grew to five people wide.
“First it was three people wide, then four, then five. The line was just getting so long,” Zado said. “It took about an hour and a half to load the arena with firefighters.”
For Zado hearing of the loss of a young firefighter hits close to home as he has two children both working in the fire service.
“For me, I am so glad I was there, but hope I never have to do it again,” Zado said. “Firefighters are a family and we look after each other.”
Botkin was killed while on duty with the Enderby Volunteer Fire Department on Dec. 29.
“This happened during mop up. They were rolling up the hoses and the doors blew off a shipping container,” Zado said.
The Enderby fire crews had been called out to a structure fire that day. The incident occurred after the fire was out. The cause of the explosion is unknown.
“It was overwhelming. It was a tremendous show of support,” said View Royal fire Chief Paul Hurst, who attended the service along with three View Royal firefighters. “What happened in Enderby could easily happened in any department in B.C.”
Hurst said Botkin’s funeral was his first for a firefighter lost in the line of duty. “Fortunately this doesn’t happen often,” he said. “I don’t even have the words to describe it.”
Enderby firefighters responded to a structure fire much like Metchosin volunteers might on any given day, remarked fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop.
“When ever there is a fatality it is definitely felt across the board,” Dunlop said. “It could happen to any of us. We never know what we are getting into when we respond to call.”
“Nobody expects that they will lose their life,” Humphries said. “It was definitely a privilege to go.”