Retired fire chief remembered as dedicated family man

Doug Angrove passed away in Kelowna last week.

Even through the darkest of days, Doug Angrove always had a smile on his face.

The former Victoria fire chief had a smile that could light up any room and a laugh that was contagious, said his daughter Amy.

That smile never faded, even when Angrove was diagnosed with brain cancer in December.

“He always found the humour in every situation. He had a quick wit and was always one step ahead of you, trying to think of the next joke to make you laugh,” said Amy.

“Throughout all of this negativity, dad never stopped joking. You couldn’t complain once about yourself without him saying ‘hey, I’m the one with the tumour’.”

On Friday, May 12, Angrove passed away in Kelowna at the age of 59.

His life was one of passion, especially for firefighting.

Angrove grew up in Esquimalt and began his firefighting career in 1979 in Nanaimo, where he rose to the position of deputy fire chief and was involved with the professional firefighters’ union for several years.

In 2003, he was named deputy chief of the Victoria Fire Department and three years later became chief.

In Victoria, Angrove was responsible for ushering in new technology and efficiencies in the electronic filing of records, much of which hadn’t changed since the 1990s.

He also pushed for increased funding for the department, which helped purchase the city’s first multi-purpose fireboat.

Paul Bruce, Victoria’s current fire chief who worked with Angrove for five years, described him as an all around good guy with a good sense of humour. He was dedicated to his profession, giving 100 per cent on the job every day and even outside of work hours. Occasionally, Angrove and Bruce would meet on the weekends to talk about the department, as well as chat about their personal lives.

“He was very dedicated and committed to any task he was doing,” Bruce said. “When you get into the fire department, you’re either all in or you’re half in and Doug was one of the guys who was all in.”

Former Victoria mayor Alan Lowe, who worked with Angrove for a few years, said he was always willing to help others. When Lowe’s son was contemplating becoming a firefighter, Angrove offered to speak to him about the profession. Now, Lowe’s son is a firefighter in Nanaimo.

“Doug had time for anyone who needed advice,” Lowe said. “He was an overall great guy who served the city very well.”

But the only thing Angrove loved more than being a firefighter was being with his family.

Angrove made his family a top priority. He was heavily involved when Amy and her older sister Jenna played sports, and the weekends were often reserved for camping, boating or fishing trips.

After his retirement from firefighting in 2011, Angrove and his wife Sandy remained active, riding bikes and kayaking. Last year the couple decided to pack up and move to Kelowna, the halfway point between his daugthers’ homes in Calgary and Salt Lake City, to be closer to his children.

After Angrove’s diagnosis, Amy and Jenna rushed to be at his side, and began preparing for the inevitable. In the weeks leading up to his death, friends and family stopped by to visit and Angrove called it his farewell tour. He passed away surrounded by family.

“He was my hero, as cliche as that sounds considering he was my dad and also a firefighter, but he was, and I hope he knew that,” Amy said. “Throughout this whole journey, he was the strongest one out of all of us. He never lost hope and kept up a good fight until the very end.”

Angrove leaves behind his wife, two daughers and four grandchildren. Amy is expecting her second child later this month. His name will be added to a memorial at city hall that honours firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com