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Langford Fire Rescue does more than fight fires

Langford Fire Rescue does more than fight fires

On Jan. 29, Langford Fire Station No. 2 entered a new phase as it was finally assigned a complement of full-time professional staff.

And although the station still has only 25 per cent of the staff that it needs to be fully staffed, Lieutenant Seth Goodwin, the station’s newly appointed commanding officer, is proud of the work that he and the rest of Langford Fire Rescue provide.

“We’re able to have four full-time firefighters here every day and of course, we have a fantastic group of volunteer firefighters that supplement our service, so we’re very motivated. Having this station staffed now is just huge,” said Goodwin.

This is the latest in changes to Langford Fire Rescue, a service that has seen massive changes from what it was in 2000 when Fire Chief Chris Aubrey first started with the department.

“Back then we were seeing about 750 calls a year and it was pretty much all volunteers,” said Aubrey. “Now our population has grown from about 17,000 in 2000 to more than 50,000 and the number of calls to our service has gone up to about 2,400 a year. We now have 29 full-time professional staff and 30 volunteers.”

Aubrey noted that the other big change in the Westshore community has been the shift from being a largely bedroom community to a vibrant city with 12-story apartment blocks, commercial buildings and large box stores.

“We face hugely different challenges these days, in terms of firefighting.”

The challenges of a growing and changing community have made the staffing of Station No. 2 vitally important, as evidenced by a call that came through just before Goodwin sat down to talk about the service.

“The call we just got was out in Wild Ridge, almost at the Metchosin border. We were able to get there much faster from here than from Station 1. That could be a 12- or 15-minute response. We can get there much faster,” Goodwin said.

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Seth Goodwin has taken over the command of Langford Fire Rescue Station No. 2. (Tim Collins)

Looking around the room, Goodwin took a moment to reflect.

“People should understand that the nature of fires has changed as different building materials come into use. Take this room for example, it’s full of synthetics and plastics… basically just fuel in solid form. This room could go up in three minutes,” Goodwin said. “So, the minutes that we save getting to a fire can be so important.”

Of course, fighting structure fires is only a small part of what Langford Fire Rescue does.

“I think that we probably do a poor job in marketing ourselves. We’re so much more than a fire department… we’re an all-hazards department. We respond to medical emergencies, high-angle rescues, even marine emergencies,” Aubrey said.

Goodwin agreed, noting that when people have an emergency and don’t know who to call, it’s Fire Rescue that gets the call.

“We rescue pets from drainpipes, help people with smoke alarms, offer advice on CO2 detectors and fire extinguishers, respond to medical emergencies and accidents, and the other day we had to get some young person’s drone out of a tree,” Goodwin said. “I guess that last one is sort of the new version of the proverbial cat in a tree.”

Goodwin is also passionate about the public education side of his job.

“The only time you meet a firefighter shouldn’t be when you’re having the worst day of your life,” Goodwin said. “If a mother and her child are wandering by and looking at the trucks, we invite them in and give them a tour. I still remember coming to a fire hall when I was three years old and getting to sit behind the wheel of a fire truck. Maybe that’s why I got hooked on the career in the end.”

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Seth Goodwin got an early start as a three-year-old checking out the fire trucks. (photo contributed by Seth Goodwin)

Goodwin chuckled at the memory but became more serious when asked what he sees as his biggest challenge on the job.

“I guess I would have to say that it’s public education. A smoke detector is so important, yet we see so many homes that don’t have working smoke detectors or no detectors at all. They cost $50 but really, what’s your life worth? We have to get messages like that out there.”

As Goodwin and Aubrey continue to work toward providing the best fire safety service possible, they are looking to the future as well.

“This job is constantly changing, and new challenges are always coming up. You never know what the day is going to bring,” Aubrey said. “Maybe that’s what makes the job so special.”

It’s hoped that the department will add another 15 firefighters in the next few years, and that Fire Station No. 2 will be able to operate with a full staff complement. Until then, Goodwin and his crew stand ready to meet the demands of a growing community and a changing world with ever-new challenges.

Langford Fire Rescue does more than fight fires – Goldstream News Gazette (goldstreamgazette.com)

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