(Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)

Oak Bay community mourns loss of protector and confidant

‘He was an amazing man. Everyone you ask is going to give you the same story’

The Oak Bay Firefighters’ website calls for thoughts and prayers in the announcement of the March 28 death of Oak Bay Fire Department Chaplain Ken Gill.

“He was an amazing man. Everyone you ask is going to give you the same story,” said Assistant Fire Chief Darren Hughes.

Gill worked as the captain in charge of fire prevention for the Oak Bay Fire Department during the last 17 years of his 32-year career, before retiring in 2014. After taking a year off after retirement to travel with his wife and spend time with his family, he returned to the Oak Bay Fire Department as its chaplain.

“He was a man of integrity, truly. A family-oriented, people-oriented man,” said Hughes. “The chaplaincy speaks to who Ken was. He is just that selfless person, who even after retirement came on as the fire department chaplain in order to help.”

During his career as the Fire Prevention Officer, Gill was often the public face of the department, visiting buildings and businesses in Oak Bay. His passion for fire prevention and safety and ensuring the residents of the district were always kept safe, was evident in his many initiatives in the community like upgrading residential apartment buildings with fire doors, removing old oil tanks, and working on commercial projects with the fire suppression systems and fire safety in new building construction, including multi-million dollar projects at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and the new Oak Bay High school.

Captain Inspector Ken Gill smiles on the last day of the Movember campaign in 2010. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)

“Professionally he was really on his game and well-respected within the fire prevention community,” said Hughes. “He did the investigations as well, so not only the prevention of fires but he also did the bulk of fire investigations so he would lend his skills in that area as well.”

He was always looking for the betterment of the community as a whole, said Hughes who noted that it was a natural transition to chaplain for Gill after retirement.

“It was like ‘Oh, of course he is that person’. And not because he was a man of faith but because that was who Ken was. That was how he lived his life. He was just that trusted confidant and a true professional,” said Hughes.

Gill had a strong faith throughout his life. Whatever faith people practiced or whatever beliefs they had, Gill was always there for them. He was always interested in how people were doing and how their families were doing.

“He was that steady keel in the water,” said Hughes.

As chaplain, Gill would take members of the department out for coffee and to talk.

“In some way, he has helped every member of our department,” said Hughes. “He was very dedicated. He was the person who could do that because he was very well-respected. He just had that level of respect and admiration. Everyone saw him as a trusted confidant.”

Gill leaves behind Marie, his wife of 36 years, his two children, Brian and Ashley, and a grandchild on the way.

“He has an amazing wife. His son is in the ambulance service and is doing extremely well there. And Gill was very proud of his daughter as well,” said Hughes.

“I can’t think of anything that isn’t just super positive about Ken,” said Hughes.

Gill was born at the Resthaven Hospital in Sidney. He began his career as a fire dispatcher with Langford in the early 1980s, moved to the Department of National Defense at CFB Esquimalt, then to the Sidney Fire Department and eventually to his post with the Oak Bay Fire Department, following in the footsteps of his father and father-in-law, both of whom spent time as firefighters. Through Gill’s fire service career, he attended the Canadian Forces Fire Academy and is accredited with the British Columbia Justice Institute. He was also an active member and involved as part of the leadership team of the Peninsula Mission Community Church.


 

keri.coles@oakbaynews.com

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(Arnold Lim/Black Press)

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