Fire chief retires after 35 years with department

Trevor Pike was born into the fire service.

By the time Pike watched Sechelt volunteer firefighters knock down the Bank of Montreal fire in 1989, he was well-acquainted with the world of firefighting.

Through Pike’s childhood – in the late ‘60s, ‘70s, and into the early ‘80s – he’d hear the calls come in for his father, Tony, on the special fire landline at home. His mother would answer the phone and then call four other firefighters and inform them of the emergency as his father dashed out the door. (The senior Pike would eventually become the Sechelt department’s chief in 1988.)

But it was when the young Trevor Pike stepped outside the Sunshine GM auto body repair shop that day in 1989 and watched the blaze across the street that he knew where he wanted to be. “I thought to myself, I want to help. I want to be part of that team,” Pike told Coast Reporter, now decades into his career and preparing to step back. “I wanted to go help right then and there.”

But first, he had to get trained up. After talking it over with his girlfriend (now wife), just days later he went and got an application.

Pike started his career at the Sechelt Fire Department March 4, 1989, and, almost 35 years to the day later, stepped back Feb. 29. He spent 15 years as a volunteer firefighter and 20 as a career firefighter, the past eight of those as chief of the department.

The many lives and properties saved over the decades Pike cites as the biggest highlights of his firefighting career. The completion of the department's training grounds on Mason Road, started roughly 25 years ago by Bill Higgs – who was fire chief from 1990 to 2016 – was also a great achievement. Pike was also responsible for replacing all of the department's front-line fire apparatus over the last six years.

Another titan accomplishment was the department's ability to persevere during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pike said they had to “rewrite the book” for policies and operating procedures during the pandemic, and implement them quickly.

Pike also noted that between COVID, the opioid crisis and other factors, the department's call volume has tripled over the past four years. He said the department has met these challenges admirably and he is proud of its ability to step up and meet the needs of the community.

“I have loved being a firefighter. I'm going to miss probably everything about the fire service other than loss,” Pike said.

The thing Pike has enjoyed the most over the decades is the “hundreds of quality people who I've got to work with over the years who have volunteered their time here to serve and protect the community.”

Sometimes fighting flames isn’t the most difficult part of the job – there’s also balancing family life while constantly on call. “I missed some parts of birthday parties, I missed one Christmas morning, I'll never forget it,” remembers Pike. “You get up and you go and you miss that stuff.”

Through the pages in the middle of the night and long, irregular hours, Pike says his family’s support never wavered.

“Me getting ready and rushing out of the house woke them up, just like I was woken up when my dad would go, but it's part of the fire service and you get used to it, my family got used to it,” he said.

“They supported me throughout this whole thing. My kids never came to me to complain,” said Pike. " I feel very fortunate for that [support].”

And from day one in the fire service, there’s been his wife, Kristi. “My wife has been my rock,” said Pike. “No doubt, I wouldn't have lasted this long in the fire service if I didn't have the support of her.”

While his time as a firefighter is ending, Pike is not retiring completely. He plans to take some time off before starting his new role as a public works operator at the District of Sechelt.

He describes his change of jobs as moving from the top to starting at the bottom, which is exactly what he says he wants. “No more 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” he said. “My evenings and my weekends will all be mine to spend with my family.”

A father of four, and a grandfather of seven, Pike, 57, said one of the great things about retiring while he is still healthy is the opportunity to spend quality time with his family. Pike also said that he loves to travel, and looks forward to doing more of that in this next chapter of his life.

Thinking of the next generation, Pike’s advice to new firefighters is to “dedicate yourself 100 per cent to training.”

He said it's important for firefighters to stay physically fit, and to be aware of their mental health, which is a rising challenge in the fire service. “Train hard, keep yourself up to speed, stay in shape, and make sure you're healthy so that you can go home and still be a real integral part of your family.”

As Pike steps back, local officials offered their thoughts on the outgoing fire chief’s tenure.

In a statement, lhe hiwus yalxwemult (Chief Lenora Joe) said, “The shíshálh Nation congratulates Chief Trevor Pike on his retirement from the Sechelt Fire Department.

“Ɂulnumshchxw (thank you) for your more than 30 years of service to the Nation and everyone in the swiya.”

Sechelt Mayor John Henderson weighed in, “It’s one thing to be fire chief during normal times, it is another to be a fire chief during a time of extreme heat events and droughts,” he said, adding that Pike “has shown grit, strength and exemplary leadership.

“Throughout his career, Chief Pike’s dedication to his team of great firefighters shows through the number of volunteers and their tenure.”

Bill Higgs, interim manager of protective services for the Sunshine Coast Regional District and Pike's predecessor as fire chief added his praise and thanks. “Everyone on the Sunshine Coast owes a debt of gratitude to Chief Pike for his incredible dedication and constant effort to improve public safety,” he said. “We are certain that the tradition of hard work and improvement will continue under the command of the new Chief.”

Dwight Davison has officially stepped in as Sechelt fire chief. Having worked with his successor for the past eight years, Pike said that Davison has his “unwavering support and endorsement” in taking over the role.

Calling Davison a “new-age fire chief” Pike said that he is ready to step in.

“I know that the fire department is in good hands with him and the other career staff members that are working here,” said Pike. “So when I step out, I don't have any real concerns. And I'm happy with where [the department] is at.”

“We've built this system that's very robust, and it's going to carry on into the future.”

Jordan Copp is the Coast Reporter’s civic and Indigenous affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

Jordan Copp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Coast Reporter