British Columbia

'A terrible loss': Outspoken Malahat fire chief dies

The island firefighting community is grieving the sudden death of volunteer Malahat Fire Chief Rob Patterson.

Volunteer Malahat Fire Chief Rob Patterson died suddenly on Monday

A GoFundMe page is raising funds for the family of Fire Chief Rob Patterson (shown here with sons and wife Tanya) after his sudden death. (Tysen Airaksinen/gofundme)

An outspoken advocate for life-saving highway upgrades has died.

Rob Patterson was the chief of the Malahat Volunteer Fire Department.

The husband and father died suddenly yesterday. Patterson was in his 50s and he worked with the Malahat Fire Department for 19 years.

Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett shared Patterson's commitment to making the Malaht highway safer.

"He advocated for volunteerism, whether it be firefighting or volunteering for some sports team," Beckett said.

"What a remarkable, community-spirited and minded individual. What a terrible loss."

Called for Malahat highway barriers

As a first responder, Patterson attended the scene of many fatal crashes on the Malahat. For years he called on the government to build barriers and medians on the highway to prevent head-on collisions.

"Rob was very, very vocal about it," Beckett said. "It wasn't an onerous task from our perspective, to put medians in, to put barriers up. And that is exactly what has happened. And that has clearly made a huge difference."

Family, friends and firefighters are paying tribute to Patterson on social media.

A GoFundMe page has been started for the Patterson family to help with expenses.

According to Bob Beckett, neighbouring fire departments are responding to emergency calls to give the Malahat Fire Department time to cope with its loss.