Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)

Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

As a firefighter, one gets to know well the neighbourhoods and people in their community.

And Colwood Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Greg Chow knows them better than most, with 38 years under his belt. He began in 1982 as a fresh-faced 16-year-old volunteer, and since 2000 he’s been a full-time professional firefighter.

“I like to say I won the lottery when I got hired on,” Chow says. Asked what he enjoys most about his work, he is quick to reply:

“That sense of giving back to the community and helping out at the time people need it most,” he says. “When you get that call and you help somebody or save somebody, save their property, that feels good. Knowing that we’ve done a good job and protected the community as well as we could over the years (is satisfying).”

Firefighting and defending the community runs in the family. Chow’s father, Alec, joined the department as a volunteer in the 1950s, and two uncles also served. A third uncle, Harry Chow, served on the department’s board of trustees and was mayor of Colwood from 1987 to 1993.

Greg Chow has been married more than 30 years and has two grown daughters, aged 27 and 24. Neither has expressed a desire to get into firefighting, but “if they wanted to, I would fully support them,” he says.

Speaking of non-traditional roles, Chow is proud of the fact the department has three active female firefighters on the volunteer corps. Women have been a part of the Colwood crew since the late 1970s and early ‘80s, he adds.

Looking back on his career, Chow still remembers his first call, a house fire where he and other junior firefighters were assigned hose-pulling duties. His first time entering a structure fire came at age 18, when he joined former fire chief Russ Cameron on the hose line.

READ MORE: Local Heroes shine on the West Shore

Supporting volunteers – teaching the next generation of firefighters – has been key during his time with the department and as he moved up the ladder. After being hired full-time in 2000, he was promoted to captain in 2002 and became assistant chief in charge of training in 2015.

Now, when not heading out to a fire scene, he serves the City of Colwood and its residents in more of an administrative role, representing the department with the Capital Region Emergency Services Telecommunications (CREST) and acting as a liaison when technical issues arise. The longtime tech fan jokes that he is “the computer guy” at home.

Like other firefighters, he keeps the pager close when in town to ensure a fast response. Enjoying a true holiday, then, means getting out of town and he loves to travel. Chow caught “the cruising bug” some years back, to the point where he now operates a cruise tour business on the side. He hopes public health orders loosen next year to allow cruising to resume.

His advice for people eyeing firefighting in a volunteer role or as a profession?

“If they’re looking to get into it, follow their dream,” he says. “It is a very rewarding line of work and career. It takes time to get in, and it’s not for everybody, but I would not trade it in for the world.”

Assistant Chief Greg Chow is our Local Hero of the Year.

Nominations for the 2022 Local Hero Awards West Shore open on Feb. 25. To learn more, go to hero.goldstreamgazette.com.

READ MORE: 2021 Local Hero Awards West Shore


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Local Hero Awards

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hamels Fabrics & Quilting is set to open on April 6 in Sooke. The shop is located at 2044 Otter Point Road. (Mark Martins/Pixabay)
Fabric and quilting store opens doors in Sooke

Shop is filled with all kinds of ‘bright, bold and cheery’ designs

Eli, left, Brent, Lindsay and Ava Wilson. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilson)
West Shore families share experience in raising a child with autism

Two families reveal some parallels, but circumstances are different for everyone

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

New hours went into effect at Saanich Parks and Public Works Yard for spring and summer seasons on April 6. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Spring, summer hours in effect at Saanich Public Works Yard

Residents reminded to practise social distancing, prepare to unload without staff help

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Most Read