Captain Rob Favel loved to be a firefighter. For 28 years he volunteered with the Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department, attending almost every call-out while also holding a full-time job as a millwright.
On July 1, 2021, two years after retiring from his full-time job, Favel died of cancer. On Saturday, Sept. 11 his fellow firefighters returned their love and respect in Favel’s memory by holding a line of duty funeral procession through the streets of Port Alberni, culminating with a service at Glenwood Centre.
Favel told his family on Feb. 22 that he had a lump. Within 18 weeks he was gone, succumbing to a rare, aggressive form of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma.
“It had already metastasized in his lymphatic system,” said Favel’s eldest daughter, Nicole.
Favel’s type of cancer was not one of 13 work-related cancers or illnesses that WorkSafeBC recognizes as cancers that arise from employment as a firefighter. However, he will receive a public service in recognition of his years of service, Beaver Creek VFD fire Chief Mike Kobus said. The service was scaled down slightly from a full line of duty funeral service, mostly due to COVID-19 protocols. That is why the service was delayed a few weeks after Favel died, he explained.
“He gave everything he had. All hours of the night he would be here; even when he retired he took the duty officer truck and people could rely on him to be there during the day,” Kobus said. Favel was first to volunteer for community-related events, and he loved any event that would bring a smile to a child’s face. A man of few words, he took his role as mentor and instructor to new recruits seriously.
“We need to recognize what this man did, not just for this hall, for the community,” Kobus said.
Favel’s service took place on Sept. 11, 20 years after 400 first responders died at the World Trade Centre on 9-11. Bill Bingham, chaplain with Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Dept., asked the small crowd gathered inside Glenwood Centre to pause for a moment of silence to remember the fallen.
Kobus said Favel was a man of few words. “He always had a calm demeanor, to the point you wondered if he was even listening to you. But he retained everything.”
Nicole Favel said her father was passionate about firefighting. “He just loved it. Everything about it. Any sort of learning or opportunities to get out in the community, to get involved, he was eager to participate in that,” she said. “He genuinely liked to help. In 28 years it was just his thing.”
Nicole and her siblings Kyle, Stefanie and Taylor, are left to mourn their father along with grandchildren Payton, Tanner, Makenna and Elyanna as well as extended family and friends. Nicole, Stefanie and Taylor shared emotional moments from their lives with their father.
Kobus and Favel’s close friend Ron Barclay presented Favel’s four children with mementos from his time served with BCVFD. Barclay presented Taylor with his father’s fire helmet, and the young man—who is also a volunteer firefighter—broke down as he hugged the helmet close.
An honour guard from Courtenay Fire Dept. led the procession into Glenwood Centre, and led the Favel family out of the centre for one final ride aboard Engine 55, as everyone said a final farewell.