‘Sense of community’ keeps fire chief in Hawkins Lake

If there’s a fire at Hawkins Lake, Bob Campbell will be there.

If there’s a fire at Hawkins Lake, Bob Campbell will be there.

He will also be on hand to offer advice on slash burning, flip burgers at the annual B.C. Day long weekend in his backyard, or organize the curling bonspiel on the frozen lake on New Year’s Day.

It’s all in a day’s work for the volunteer fire chief for the Hawkins Lake Volunteer Fire Association.

“I don’t know how long I’ve been chief but it’s been quite a while now,” said Campbell, 71, who has been involved in the fire department since it was formed in 1989. “The position was vacant for a while and somebody volunteered me to step in until found someone and I’ve been here ever since. You’re in a community and you do what you can.”

Campbell arrived in the South Cariboo in the 1970s, after he and a few buddies accepted a $75-gig one winter driving a car from one low-end lot in Ontario to another in B.C. He eventually wound up in 100 Mile House, which reminded him of rural Ontario and, while checking out the area, spotted a real estate window advertising a house in Hawkins Lake.

READ MORE: Hawkins Lake Bonspeedle attracts two dozen neighbours

Forty-five years later, he’s still there, in the same house. As fire chief, he manages a team of 12 volunteer firefighters, who have been training in teams of six to maintain physical distancing during the pandemic. “If we have six call-outs a year, that’s a busy year for us,” he said. “We’re very remote and have a small population.”

That remoteness – and the fact “you know all your neighbours and they know you” – is what has kept Campbell in Hawkins Lake all these years. The community, which includes about 170 property owners in the fire district and more in the summer months, tends to be mostly retirees, who pull together to support the local area.

Indeed, when the fire department had to cancel its annual BC Day BBQ fundraiser in August due to COVID-19, the people of Hawkins Lake still pitched in to support the independent department, which relies on donations and memberships and fundraisers to stay afloat.

“A lot of people have been donating money to make up for that lost revenue,” Campbell said, noting the annual event draws a lot of participants every year. “Not only does it raise a bit of money but some people have cabins up here and say ‘I come from a place where I don’t even know my neighbour’ and now they know a lot of people … there’s a lot of little places like that out here.”

Campbell isn’t sure how long he will remain the fire chief – “I’m not that young anymore” – but knows why he has stayed in the community for so long.

“Everybody can do their own thing,” he said. “You can be as involved or as reserved as you want. There’s a good sense of community and contact with the natural world is always a draw.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

Public invited to help cram police cruiser with food donations

The Cram the Cruiser event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Library set to resume programs virtually in October

The 100 Mile House Branch will restart its virtual programming this month.

100 Mile House RCMP seeking the public’s assistance to identify a dangerous driver

The male suspect was last seen fleeing north on Highway 97 in a white Acura 2

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

More sex abuse charges laid against B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’

Investigators now focussing efforts on alleged victims within the Glad Tidings Church community

Most Read