Captain Doug Beckett, a 29-year veteran of the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue, was one of 15 people honoured by the District for their help during the Lions Manor and Mountain Village Garden Apartment fires in the summer of 2018.
At a ceremony in December, Mayor Mike Little described how Beckett “who was off duty, but lives in (Deep Cove) responded to the fire from his home. Despite having no personal protective equipment, he entered the burning structure and bravely assisted the elderly residents who were unable to escape safely on their own.”
Beckett had previously also been named the North Vancouver Fire Department’s “Fire Fighter of the Year” for 2018. The July fire at the Deep Cove senior’s residence sent eight people to hospital, and left sixty-six seniors without homes. Beckett is matter of fact about being first on the scene.
“I was turning up Naughton and saw smoke. The front of the building was on fire. I’ve been in that building many times before. I know who lives in the building, and I knew there would be people in there possibly needing help.”
Beckett led a team of volunteers into the building to bang on doors and help people evacuate, but stopped them when he reached the fourth floor and saw how much smoke there was in the hallway. “I told people ‘don’t go in there because there’s a chance you won’t come out’.”
Beckett met the crew from Firehall #4 when they arrived out front. “I knew the truck that would be coming, and the people that would be coming.” After explaining the conditions inside the building, Beckett then moved to the back and began helping to remove residents from the rear balconies. Beckett wasn’t the only off-duty fire-fighter on the scene at Lions Manor.
Mayor Little also presented commendations to Coquitlam fire-fighters Martin Chambers and Greg Baird, and Abbotsford Fire Department’s Juan Pablo Mora Perea, all of whom were visiting Deep Cove on their day off, but jumped in when the fire started. Also singled out for their contributions were local student Aidan Harding, who directed traffic while fire crews fought the blaze; Abbotsford Pilots hockey player Noah Wiebe and his friend Justin Brake, who helped residents down from balconies; and Nick Coles and Evan Crawford.
The June fire at Mountain Village Garden apartments in Lynn Valley left a mother and son dead, and sixteen in hospital. It also showed the strength of community spirit. The Council commended people who played an important role in that tragedy. Apartment manager Steve Boughman, who shut off gas to the complex when fire broke out, and maintenance manager Jim Thompson, who helped people during and after evacuation, were both honoured for their quick actions.
Former Mountain Village manager James Koman and his son Mikey were also recognized for their work that night, as were Joel Bodlack and Eugene Mathews. Mayor Little reminded the Council and guests that although these people were being given individual commendations, there were many people and organizations in the District who stepped up to help during the fires, and to raise funds and find temporary homes for displaced residents afterwards.
“The people that we’re recognizing this evening didn’t hesitate, but are just a sampling of the people who stepped up in our community to volunteer; or the hundreds and hundreds of people who came out to make donations.”