Colwood’s fire chief remembered for devotion, love for community

Members of enforcement at the memorial service. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
A member of the Colwood Fire Department walks toward centre stage to read a poem in honour of Cassidy. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)A member of the Colwood Fire Department walks toward centre stage to read a poem in honour of Cassidy. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Members of enforcement listen to a speech that honours the late John Cassidy, where a variety of funny, heartfelt and heroic memories are shared. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)Members of enforcement listen to a speech that honours the late John Cassidy, where a variety of funny, heartfelt and heroic memories are shared. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Members of enforcement sit together in honour of the late John Cassidy, where a variety of heartfelt speeches in Cassidy's memory were heard. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Members of enforcement gather together before service begins. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
March continues as members of enforcement march downhill toward the field where memorial was held. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)March continues as members of enforcement march downhill toward the field where memorial was held. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Marching with flags in honour of John Cassidy’s service at Colwood FireMarching with flags in honour of John Cassidy’s service at Colwood Fire
Bagpipes fill the air as many in Greater Victoria honour the late John Cassidy. (Megan Atkins-Baker)Bagpipes fill the air as many in Greater Victoria honour the late John Cassidy. (Megan Atkins-Baker)
Angus Macpherson is one of many who played the bagpipes at John Cassidy's memorial in his honour, July 10. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Colwood Fire Chief John Cassidy memorial service held on July 10. (Black Press Media file photo)Colwood Fire Chief John Cassidy memorial service held on July 10. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood Fire Chief John Cassidy memorial service to be held in the afternoon, July 10. (Black Press Media file photo)Colwood Fire Chief John Cassidy memorial service to be held in the afternoon, July 10. (Black Press Media file photo)

During a memorial on Saturday, the community remembered John Cassidy as a passionate, thoughtful and devoted fire chief whose love for Colwood was second only to his family.

Cassidy, who died on June 23, had been part of the force since 1999 and served as fire chief from 2017 until his death.

A procession of firefighters and other first responders from across B.C. marched down to the fields of the West Shore Recreation Centre on Saturday before speakers honoured Cassidy.

Greg Chow, Colwood’s acting fire chief, said Cassidy was known for his dedication, compassion and for educating the community about fire prevention.

“Through his guidance and mentorship, members of our department will continue to thrive,” he said.

“We are all better for having known John Cassidy.”

READ: West Shore firefighting peers pay tribute to Colwood chief

View Royal’s fire chief Paul Hurst said the community lost a hero in Cassidy. He said the fire chief exemplified integrity and was firm and not easily swayed in his positions, but always open to others’ perspectives.

“He always put family first, Colwood next, himself last,” Hurst said.

The chief recalled how Cassidy would call him every day, asking him where he was – even though he knew Cassidy was keeping tabs on his exact location through the firetruck GPS tracking system.

“I’m going to miss those calls. My daily phone call always started with ‘Brother Paul, what’s up,’” Hurst said.

“I’m exhausted by the passing of John, I am broken and sad. I’m not quite finished crying over this incredible loss,” Hurst said.

He closed by remembering his last call with Cassidy, just 15 minutes before the chief’s death.

“I ended that phone call by telling John I will see you tomorrow, I love you. He replied ‘I love you too brother Paul.’ I get to keep that in my heart until the day I die,” Hurst said.

The last speakers were Cassidy’s wife and two kids. They remembered him as someone who cared fiercely, and whose humour and goofy antics always lit up their day.

Lauren, Cassidy’s daughter, said her father would listen to anyone who needed it.

“He would always ask how you were doing and he’s one of the few people who I think really genuinely wanted to know,” Lauren said. “He always wanted to help people, to be there when they needed it most.”

His son, Ryan, will miss the kindness and optimism that filled the many little talks they shared every day.

“My father was brave, strong and fearless,” Ryan said, adding that his father always lived up to be the person and firefighter he bragged about.

Cassidy’s wife Monique said Cassidy loved Colwood and was so proud to be its fire chief.

READ: Community mourns sudden death of Colwood fire chief


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