Former Victoria Fire Department fire chief Richard Couch, who served for 30 years, including three years in the top job before retiring in 2006, passed away last week after a relatively brief battle with cancer. Photos courtesy City of Victoria

Former Victoria Fire Department fire chief Richard Couch, who served for 30 years, including three years in the top job before retiring in 2006, passed away last week after a relatively brief battle with cancer. Photos courtesy City of Victoria

Late Victoria fire chief remembered for his quiet dedication, leadership

Richard “Rick” Couch the second former chief to pass from cancer in just over a year

Former Victoria Fire Department fire chief Richard “Rick” Couch is being remembered as a patient teacher with a quiet, confident leadership style and a dedication to his personal and firefighting families.

Couch passed away last week, roughly four months after being diagnosed with cancer. He joined the department in 1976 and retired in 2006 after spending three years as fire chief.

“He was a very caring and competent firefighter, certainly very focused on his family and on doing a good job,” said current Fire Chief Paul Bruce, who joined the VFD in 1993 and “rode the back of the Number 2 engine with Rick” out of the previous Superior and Oswego streets station for a few years. “He was very proud to be a firefighter, especially in Victoria where he grew up and spent his whole life.”

Couch’s death from cancer was the second such passing in just over a year of a former VFD fire chief. Couch’s successor, Doug Angrove, succumbed to the disease in May 2017.

Both deaths are considered to have come in the line of duty, Bruce said, and as such full honours are expected. The chief was planning to meet with Couch’s family early this week to help plan a service and memorial.

Couch was active and healthy, even in his retirement, regularly going to the gym and running, Bruce said. He was a member of the Victoria firefighters team that participated in the 2017 Ride to Conquer Cancer in honour of Angrove.

Couch’s passing leaves a sad note for the department, whose members have for years been active in working with provincial bodies on creating more stringent health and safety precautions for firefighters, and greater recognition of the connection between firefighting and long-term health risks.

“That’s one of the things we really pushed for with the union, we’ve established there’s a definite link between the toxins in the smoke and [the health damage they cause firefighters],” Bruce said.

Last year the province added a clause to the Firefighters Occupational Disease Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act to add presumptions for breast cancer, prostate cancer and multiple myeloma as occupational diseases for firefighters. As well, such practises as thoroughly cleaning firefighters’ turnout gear on the scene of a fire, and in some areas, the use of steam showers on site to do that job, have become more prevalent.

The new Victoria Fire Department public safety building on Johnson Street is expected to contain a specialized clean room where turnout gear can be sterilized of any toxins collected during active firefighting.

The Gala for Hope fundraiser this Friday (June 29) at the Crystal Garden will be raising money for the B.C. Cancer Foundation via the Ride to Conquer Cancer. For tickets or more information, email VFDGalaForHope@gmail.com.

Details of Couch’s service will be publicized once available.

editor@vicnews.com

City of VictoriaVictoria Fire Department

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

Just Posted

Muddy Valley Farm in rural Saanich is calling for witnesses after its large metal gate was stolen overnight on Monday, Jan. 18. (Muddy Valley Farm/Facebook)
Rural Saanich farm reports large metal gate stolen

Muddy Valley Farm gate stolen overnight by ‘at least two people’

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Dallas Road

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested after stealing water taxi, racing it up Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000

A Seed and Stone rendering for White Rock, B.C. (Seed and Stone rendering)
Songhees Nation to open two Victoria cannabis stores spring 2021

Seed and Stone stores will open on Gordon Street and in the Bay Centre

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Most Read