MBFD History

To provide service to the community by protecting life, property and environment through prevention, public education and emergency response with well maintained equipment and highly trained, dedicated personnel.

The Mill Bay Fire Department is a volunteer organization providing public safety services to the residents of Mill Bay and Cobble Hill. Our mission is the protection and preservation of life and property for the people we serve. We are committed to doing so through the provision of quality cost effective services in the areas of fire suppression, rescue and extrication, and emergency First Responder / Medical Assist services.


The Mill Bay Fire Department, as with others on the coast, started in the early 1940s as Civil Defence Guild Fire Halls. Mill Bay was Guild Hall #30. The first Chiefs that we have been able to find mention of are John Gardom and Fred Bartneck. Gordon Hayes became Chief in Dec 1950, and under his leadership formed The Mill Bay Volunteer Fire Department as part of the Mill Bay Community League. Other Chiefs of this era were Charlie Fitt and George Hauk. In 1963, the Mill Bay Fire Protection District was incorporated under the Water Act by Letters Patent. Since the formation of the Protection District, the first Chief under this jurisdiction was Bob Trousdell 1963-1968, followed by Bill Peters 1968-1975, John Anderson 1975-1980, Dave Atkinson 1980-1988, Darwin Generous 1988, Dave Garnett 1988-1990, Lloyd Rigler 1990-1991, Pete Balding 1991-2002, Don Sparks 2003, Terry Culp 2004-2011, and Ron Beck 2011-present. In 1973, the Water Act was superseded by the Department of Municipal Affairs.


We have a strong commitment to fire safety. We offer public fire and life safety education programs, varying from lectures on fire safety to extinguisher training for local businesses. A Fire Safety House provides Fire Safety Education to children and their parents. We are a progressive department, using the National Fire Protection Standard 1001, and the British Columbia Fire Fighter Certification Programs as a basis for Officer and Firefighter Training. This has resulted in a well trained and effective Fire Service Operation. We employ the Incident Command System for Emergency Incidents, resulting in a safe and efficient emergency scene.

We are committed to personal and professional development. We encourage training, education, and skill development on an on-going basis. The Mill Bay Fire Department is committed to a comprehensive safety program that recognizes the inherent hazards of our profession. We are committed to policies that encourage the mental and physical health of our workforce. We encourage pride in our department and pride in the quality of our work. Our conduct, both on and off duty, is a reflection of our professional commitment.  We strive to offer the best fire service possible to our customers within the Mill Bay Fire Protection District and within the guidelines and resources afforded its board of trustees.


The Mill Bay Fire Department is responsible for the fire protection, rescue, fire prevention, and First Responder medical services for an area of approximately 20 square miles with an estimated population of 8,000 residents, with the population projected to increase significantly within the next several years. Mill Bay was established in the 1860s, twenty years after Victoria was founded. The principal industry was lumber and milling. Today, the area also has some agricultural lands and several small marinas.


The fire service in North America has a rich tradition of volunteer fire departments dating back to the early 1800s. These volunteer fire departments continue to provide fire suppression and rescue services through the time and talent of the members of the community. As time progressed and some areas grew, the need for full-time (or career) firefighters developed. This occurred mainly in medium to large cities where the industry and tax base both required and could pay for a full-time staff. In other areas, volunteer departments continue to provide quality cost effective services to their community.

While there are very many variations of ‘volunteer’ departments, the most common in the Cowichan Valley is the on-call department. This is the system used at the Mill Bay Fire Department. On-call implies that the firefighters do not maintain a constant presence at the fire station and donate their time and energy to assist in fire suppression, fire prevention, rescue, and medical support situations. We are proud to continue the rich tradition of volunteerism through extensive involvement in the community and support of a wide variety of organizations and events.

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