Late Maple Ridge firefighter Dennis TeBoekhorst will be honoured Monday during a special memorial at the legislative buildings in Victoria.
The event includes a parade of uniformed firefighters marching through the streets of downtown Victoria, from the Black Ball Ferry ramp in the harbour, to the B.C. Parliament Buildings, complete with colour party and honour guard.
Hundreds of firefighters from throughout B.C., as well as dignitaries and families of the fallen, are expected to attend.
TeBoekhorst, a lieutenant, collapsed Oct. 21, 2016. He was fishing at the time, and had just returned to his truck when he began having difficulties.
A passing firefighter from the Mission Fire Department witnessed TeBoekhorst in distress and stopped to help.
The firefighter got assistance from other fishermen, and called 911.
TeBoekhorst went into cardiac arrest a short time after. Mission Fire/Rescue Service and paramedics attended the scene, and he was taken to Ridge Meadows Hospital, where he was stabilized for transport to the Royal Columbian Hospital Cardiac Care Unit. He was eventually returned to Ridge Meadows Hospital and placed in ICU, where he remained on a ventilator.
Doctors discovered he had suffered a catastrophic brain injury, from which he could not recover.
TeBoekhorst was a long-time resident who graduated from Maple Ridge secondary in 1992.
In 2010, he donated one of his kidneys to his daughter, who was suffering from bilateral kidney failure. The TeBoekhorsts have since been a big part of the Children’s Hospital charity programs and strong proponents of the organ donor program.
TeBoekhorst’s passing was being treated as a line of duty death, for which an honour guard paraded from Memorial Peace Park to Maple Ridge Baptist Church.
At the funeral, Maple Ridge Fire Chief Howard Exner spoke of TeBoekhorst’s work ethic, and a career that started when he joined the department in 1999 as a paid on-call volunteer. He became a full-time firefighter in 2006, and was promoted to lieutenant in 2010.
“To say that he was capable was an understatement,” said Exner. “Dennis was a true fire warrior.”
He was one of the department’s highest-attending members, having been to 10,140 calls. He went to 2,600 calls in a three-year period between 2003 and 2005.
Chaplin Dan Ost noted at the funeral that TeBoekhorst was helping others to the end, and as an organ donor, 11 people benefitted from his donations.
The B.C. fallen firefighters who will be recognized at the 2017 memorial:
• Larry Page, Richmond Local 1286, Fire Fighter, June 1, 1973
• Howard Breden, Richmond Local 1286, Captain, November 20, 1979
• Harry Beetstra, Richmond Local 1286, District Chief, July 25, 1991
• Ken Cook, Trail Local 941, Fire Fighter, March 28 1998
• Merrill Gosling, Richmond Local 1286, Captain, February 21, 2015
• Kevin Hegarty, Surrey Local 1271, Fire Fighter, March 1, 2015
• Ernie Dombrowski, Surrey Local 1271, Fire Fighter, April 20, 2015
• Wayne C. Douglas, Fort St. John Local 2413, Captain, May 21, 2015
• Brian Taillefer, Kamloops Local 913, Captain, August 1, 2015
• William Hunter, Vancouver Local 18, Captain, September 19, 2015
• Randy Piticco, Surrey Local 1271, Captain, December 22, 2015
• Don Baxter, Nanaimo Local 905, Assistant Chief, August 16, 2016
• Dennis TeBoekhorst, Maple Ridge Local 4449, Lieutenant, October 21, 2016
• Harjinder S. Ghuman, Vancouver Local 18, Lieutenant, December 1, 2016