Fire officials in Central Saanich are mourning the loss of one of their own and launching a memorial scholarship to ensure his legacy lives on.
The Central Saanich Volunteer Firefighters Association says it’s establishing the Forrest Owens Memorial Scholarship for local youth pursuing firefighting following the July 21 death of Assistant Fire Chief Forrest Owens.
According to the Central Saanich Fire, Owens passed away amid a battle with cancer and a more than 35-year stint with the department, where he fulfilled various roles, including fire captain, before retiring and staying on as “active paid call” assistant fire chief.
The department plans to retire the number 14, which Owens used in the line of duty.
“He was an element of stability to the department with a long-standing vision of where the community needs to with the fire service,” said Fire Chief Kenn Mount in an interview with CHEK News.
“He got to know people in the community probably more than any of us.”
Deputy Chief Stacey Lee echoes Mount, saying Owens was someone “who was always there to help, he was kind, generous and was a rock for our department.”
“He was a true legend in the Fire Service and our community and it’s never been more evident than with the recent outpouring of love for Forrest to his family and our department,” said Lee.
Central Saanich Fire says Owens was well respected by all and noted that he not only advocated for emergency responders’ mental health awareness but was pivotal in fire member training.
Owens also led the community’s prevention and inspection program for years and, in his spare time, was an avid fisherman and a dedicated hockey and lacrosse coach, the fire department said in a Wednesday news release.
“Forrest’s contributions to the community have had a lasting impact,” said Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor. “He will be greatly missed.”
The public is invited to attend Owens’ celebration of life happening this Sunday, Aug. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Saanich Fairgrounds, following a procession from Stelly’s Secondary School starting at noon.
“We are hurting right now as a fire department, but this event on Sunday is a key thing for us to kind of move on and move forward,” added Mount.
For those who wish to attend the memorial service for Assistant Chief Forrest Owens but unable to be there in person, a livestream of the services will be available Sunday, August 14, at 1:00 pm, here: https://t.co/wwzDGgl4uX pic.twitter.com/6RK69tUo0B
— Central Saanich Fire (@CSaanichFire) August 12, 2022