Rodney Ward served as a volunteer firefighter with the Westbank Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1981 to 1991. He also served as a paramedic with the B.C. Ambulance Service from 1981 to 2013. (Submitted photo)

Rodney Ward served as a volunteer firefighter with the Westbank Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1981 to 1991. He also served as a paramedic with the B.C. Ambulance Service from 1981 to 2013. (Submitted photo)

‘Jack of all trades’: $10,000 donation in honour of former West Kelowna firefighter

Rodney Ward served as a volunteer firefighter from 1981-91 and a paramedic from 1981-2013

The family of a former West Kelowna volunteer firefighter is donating $10,000 to West Kelowna Fire Rescue to improve the safety of firefighters.

Rodney Ward served as a volunteer firefighter with the Westbank Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1981 to 1991.

He also served as a paramedic with the B.C. Ambulance Service from 1981 to 2013. Rodney died in March of 2021 from a brain tumour at the age of 68.

After his death, Rodney’s wife Linda and the Ward family decided to make the donation on his behalf.

“He was one of those guys that was truly a jack of all trades. That’s why he enjoyed the fire department so much. He could go into a situation and understand what was going on in the environment around him. He was so generous,” Linda said.

It was important to Linda that the donation goes towards something that would improve the safety of firefighters. She believes Rodney’s brain tumour could have developed during his time with the fire department because of lax safety protocols back in the ‘80s.

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The decision of how to allocate the funds was left to the crew at West Kelowna Fire Rescue, as long as it improved safety. Staff within the department, including the chief officers’ team, the IAFF union executive and the Paid-on-Call Firefighters Association determined the donation will go toward supporting firefighter training

“That way Rod has the potential to benefit all the firefighters in the department,” fire chief Jason Broland said. “It’s my hope that in the very near future we’ll be embarking on upgrading our training facilities and that will be putting this donation to work in a way that we’ll have it for years and years.”

West Kelowna Fire Rescue doesn’t normally receive or solicit donations, but Brolund said the donation was a beautiful way to memorialize Rodney’s service to the community.

“Rod was a long-time member of our fire department. I never had the opportunity to serve with him, but I did get to know Rod in his role as a paramedic. Many West Kelowna residents would know Rod from his role in the fire department or his role in paramedicine. They may not specifically recognize his name but no doubt he’s helped them in one way or another,” Broland said

The donation was allocated to the City of West Kelowna’s 2022 Capital Budget with the specified purpose of improving firefighter safety at a Nov. 23 council meeting. Funds will be held in a capital reserve until a specific use for them has been identified.

“It’s so great, I’m very happy,” Linda said. “If I can do something to help out the community, that’s great.”


@SchislerCole
cole.schisler@bpdigital.ca

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