In his nearly two decades as a firefighter in Colwood, there are very few roles Bryan Erwin has not played.
He’s been a volunteer and a career firefighter, helped teach the next generation of firefighters, worked on the Capital Regional District’s hazmat team and much more. Now, Erwin has stepped into yet another role, one with very large boots to fill.
On Jan. 13, Erwin was announced as the latest fire chief in Colwood Fire Rescue’s 75-year history, taking over after the sudden death of Chief John Cassidy last summer.
“I did not expect I would ever be chief, it’s just something that has kind of taken course,” Erwin said. “As you move through the different portfolios, you start learning and you start changing … I’m really excited for the opportunity.”
Born and raised on the West Shore and a Colwood resident for the past 30 years, he first volunteered with the department in 2005. In a twist of fate, it was his predecessor Cassidy who talked him into becoming a career member, though Erwin said he always had an interest in joining and grew up with many friends and family in the fire service.
After three years as a volunteer, he made the move and has never looked back since.
“You gotta like the job that you do, and that is easy to do with this job because you have the opportunity to go out and help the community you grew up in,” Erwin said. “Each day is never the same. You show up to work, you are never sure what you are going to get, but you are helping people. Generally when we go out to do work, people are having the worst day of their lives. If we can provide them help, that’s what keeps me going. I just want to keep doing that.”
While his work is going to look quite different as chief, Erwin looks forward to the challenge. Working in a rapidly growing community, his focus for the department will be maintaining the high level of service Colwood has grown to expect.
Still settling into the role, Erwin was hesitant to detail his plans as chief until he has been brought up to speed, so he can see which of his ideas and plans will actually fit best. What he can say though, is that anything he wants to do will require the help of each and every member of the department.
“I’m a firm believer in providing people the support they need to do their jobs well,” he said. “I look forward to the challenges that come forward, and I know being surrounded by so many great people, we will be successful.”