New IVFD Fire Chief Eric de Vries congratulates the retiring Doug Townsend, the former Fire Chief, with a certificate on behalf of MLA Donna Barnett. Submitted photo.

Interlakes Fire Chief essential to joining the CRD and creating the first responder unit retires

Doug Townsend was the Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief for 16 years

Doug Townsend, the Interlakes Fire Chief of 16 years, is getting ready for a lifetime of fishing after retiring from the department last month.

“I know I’m leaving it with a great group of people so I feel good about that,” said Townsend.

Townsend joined the Interlakes Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD) after retiring from the Port Moody Police Department, which he was a member of for 33 years. His family decided to come up to the Interlakes area because they had been frequently travelling to the lakes to fish.

“We were out one day on Bridge Lake and we saw a ‘for sale’ sign on the lake. We followed up and liked what we saw so low and behold we ended up here,” he said.

Eventually, after moving, he ran into someone he knew from his high school days on the Lower Mainland who was on the board of the directors for the fire department, which wasn’t under the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) yet. Townsend was asked to go to one of their meetings.

“Next thing you know, I’m the deputy fire chief,” he said, adding that it was only a short time before his predecessor resigned and he took over as Fire Chief.

Townsend said the best thing that ever happened to the IVFD was becoming part of the CRD, with all the people in the area approving the referendum.

It allowed the department to get new equipment and build two new fire halls and enlarge the first one to meet all the standards. In 2018, the IVFD took possession of their first brand new truck, with another one coming this year and in 2020.

“There was a chimney fire call – this was years and years ago when we were still just a society – and the old truck we had we were driving down the highway and we got to a little bit of a hill and the truck bogged down and we had to go pretty slowly because we had no power. We had all the equipment going and a guy in a pickup and a big fifth wheel trailer actually pulled out and passed us because we were going so slow,” recalled Townsend on the state of the equipment they had before the department joined the CRD.

As part of the CRD, the IVFD also created a first responder unit in 2009, where Townsend has been a prominent fixture.

Eric de Vries, the new IVFD Fire Chief, said Townsend would be missed in that function.

“It was something he thought was very important to have in our community,” de Vries said. “That was really his thing. He was at every single call there was when he was available. It was his passion.”

Townsend said the relief people had when he and the department showed up at the scene, whether it was an accident, injury or illness, and the service they provided before the ambulance arrived is what he would miss the most.

He has no idea where he and his wife will be relocating to, other than somewhere with warmer weather, but he has the utmost faith in de Vries taking over and the new management crew.

“I’m sure the department will forge ahead. I think Eric is very bright and he seems to be in tune with everything,” said Townsend.

Fishing will be the new priority for the self-proclaimed fishing fool. He plans on building up his fly-tying supply collection, as well as getting back to do fishing rod repairs. Of course, spending time with the grandchildren is also on his mind.

He also has a trailer he said hasn’t been all that far.

“We intend on using it more.”

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