Firefighters to honour fallen comrade

“It’s a tragic event.” said Langley Township Fire Chief Stephen Gamble, first vice-president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs.

Firefighters from Langley will be attending Thursday’s memorial service for Enderby volunteer firefighter Dan Botkin, who died Dec. 29 battling a fire at Sperlich Log Construction. Botkin was killed when a shed on site exploded.

“It’s a tragic event.” said Langley Township Fire Chief Stephen Gamble, the first vice-president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and a past president of the B.C. Association of Fire Chiefs.

“We’re just sorry for the family and the community.”

Langley Township has 85 career or full-time firefighters and between 110 and 120 paid-on-call firefighters, and Gamble said the Langley contingent will include full-time officers.

Fire departments draw no distinction between part-time firefighters and their full-time career colleagues, Gamble observed.

“You’re still facing the same hazards.”

Gamble described the fatal explosion as a freak event, the kind of thing that can’t be anticipated.

“You can’t train for something like this.”

Over 1,000 firefighters from across the province and the country are expected to attend the memorial.

“It’s like your family,” Gamble said.

People were expected to line the streets of the small community during a procession to honour Botkin.

A capacity crowd of 1,200 is expected at the Enderby Arena for Botkin’s funeral.

Seating for the family and emergency personnel will be given priority, but there will be some limited seating for the public in the stands.

An audio broadcast of the funeral will be aired outside.

“The value of our emergency responders and the sacrifice Dan made is something we can’t understate,” Enderby Mayor Howie Cyr said.

After the service, there will be a reception for the general public in the curling rink.

A reception for emergency services personnel will occur at the Enderby fire hall. It will be closed to the general public.

Some Enderby businesses plan to close their doors for the day so staff can observe the procession and attend the funeral.

The Dan Botkin memorial trust fund — #322214 — has been set up at the Enderby and District Credit Union.

Donations can be made at any credit union branch in B.C.

– with files from Vernon Morning Star

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