Island fire departments pay respects to fallen Sproat Lake firefighter

WatchSixty-nine-year-old Ron Suits suffered a fatal heart attack after arriving at a barn fire July 16.

In a white and yellow Sproat Lake Fire engine, Lt. Ron Suits was taken home Wednesday.

The sixty-nine-year-old suffered a fatal heart attack after arriving at a barn fire on July 16.

Flanked by Sproat Lake Fire Chief Mike Cann and other members of the department, Suits’ wife and daughter took his ashes back to the Alberni Valley after he was cremated in Courtenay.

“Today is a very difficult day, very sad,” said Cann. “It’s going to take quite a while to work this through our fire department.”

The procession began in Courtenay where several local departments, as well as Campbell River Fire and a military department from 19 Wing Comox, lined the route, giving him the only kind of send-off possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, which limits large crowds.

“It’s to show his personal family how much the rest of the fire service family cares about him and what he’s done for his community in his career,” said Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex.

“A fire service traditionally always supports each other, doesn’t matter what department it is and it’s a sad day but we’re all out here to support the family,” said Comox Fire Department Assistant Chief Jim Lariviere.

Suits had been with the Sproat Lake Fire Department for 4.5 years. Prior to that, he’d been a career firefighter in Calgary for 27 years. He had also served as a board member with the Dashwood Fire Department.

On July 16, he drove a pumper truck to a barn fire where he suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after arriving at the scene.

Suits leaves behind his wife and two adult children.

“I think it’s going to be a time of mourning and grieving but I also think it’s going to be a time of celebration as we go by,” said Sproat Lake firefighter and chaplain Bill Bingham.

The procession wound its way from Courtenay to Qualicum Beach and then to Sproat Lake passing over 30 fire departments from across Vancouver Island along the way.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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