It was a hero’s sendoff for Captain Troy Russell.
More than 1,000 people lined West Kelowna streets to honour the long-time firefighter, including family and friends, and his fire-fighting comrades.
Russel lost his battle to cancer on Sept. 25 — his death is the is the first line-of-duty death for West Kelowna Fire Rescue, as the cancer he experienced was directly related to his work as a firefighter.
It was Russel’s request to have his funeral procession at the Royal LePage hockey arena in West Kelowna surrounded by Canadian flags.
The procession left from 1655 Westgate Road at 11:45 a.m. and travelled eastbound on Ross Road to Hewl Road, then southbound on Hewl Road to Royal LePage Place. Family members, fire service personnel, emergency personnel and vehicles, travelled under two ladder trucks that raised ladders in the form of an arch.
Ruth and Ron Dobbin watched their son, who is a firefighter in Edmonton, march in the ceremony. Ruth said her son had played hockey and baseball with Russell.
“Thank goodness it didn’t rain, and it’s a very nice turnout,” she said.
The pair said it was a nice sendoff, adding they last saw Russell in the cancer clinic in July.
A recent study, titled Determinants of Injury and Death in Canadian Firefighters: A Case for a National Firefighter Wellness Surveillance System, found that 86 per cent of all firefighter workplace fatality claims were blamed on cancer, and firefighters are killed by cancer at a rate about three times higher than the general population.
Cancer rates among firefighters increase dramatically with age, with the 35-to-39-year-old group accounting for only one per cent of workplace fatal cancer claims among firefighters. The 60-to-64-year-old group accounts for 17 per cent of the fatal cancer claims, while the 65 and older group makes up nearly half of the claims.