The breadth and depth of the legacy John Cassidy leaves behind can be measured in part through the thoughts and reflections of his closest colleagues.
Cassidy, who served with Colwood Fire Rescue since 1999 and as chief since 2017, died suddenly on June 23.
Acting Fire Chief Greg Chow said Cassidy’s passing is a huge loss for the department and the firefighting community.
“I know Chief Cassidy was most proud when his son Ryan joined the department a few years back,” Chow said. “John leaves a lasting memory in all of our hearts. Always assisting not only our department, but many others as well, with fire code interpretations, fire investigation questions and examining future fire inspectors.
“Chief Cassidy was very particular on how he liked to be addressed,” Chow recalled. “For the recruits and firefighters, it was a sign of respect and most deserving of a chief officer. I had the pleasure of working alongside John these past 20 years and can honestly say that he always had the community’s best interest first and foremost. We will carry on with the many initiatives he started with ours and other departments because John would have wanted it that way.”
Other West Shore fire chiefs also reflected on Cassidy’s dedication.
Langford Fire Rescue Chief Chris Aubrey called it “a devastating loss.”
“Chief Cassidy gave so much to the fire service and his community,” he said. “My heart goes out to his family and everyone at Colwood Fire Rescue. Chief Cassidy has dedicated his life to serving others and he worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of residents on the West Shore. He was a respected leader, colleague and friend and I will miss him greatly.”
View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst said Cassidy was a man of exceptional integrity, “a fire chief who was completely dedicated to the fire service and his community.”
“John always spoke so highly of his family and how proud he was of his two children,” Hurst said. “He loved the fire service and worked hard every day to improve Colwood Fire and represent the city with pride. That passion and dedication took a toll physically on John. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his city and department, and now we are left to pick up the pieces and continue his legacy.”
Cassidy was an integral part and architect of the West Shore Command Team and the integration of operations between View Royal, Colwood and Langford.
“John had a logical approach to issues, pragmatic and thoughtful,” Hurst said. “John never rushed to judgment, nor did he suffer fools easily. You either knew and understood John and embraced his approach, or you didn’t. There was no middle ground in your friendship with John. He was a loyal soldier, organized, deliberate and decisive.”
While plans for a memorial service will be released at a later date, the fire service is expected to afford Cassidy all the honours and respect he earned during his almost 30 years of service. Many flags throughout the West Shore remain at half-mast in his honour.
“He will be remembered and we will continue to live up to his expectations as leaders in the West Shore fire service,” Hurst added. “Rest easy brother, we will take it from here.”