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 will return 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 will be 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.
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.
Procession officer Andrew Siwy from Vancouver will be in attendance to guide the proceedings. An honour guard from Courtenay Volunteer Fire Dept. will come to Port Alberni, and fire chaplain Bill Bingham from Sproat Lake VFD will preside at the service.
A procession will leave the parking lot at Echo Centre on Wallace Street at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, proceed right onto 10th Avenue, right again onto Roger Street and then left on Vimy Street into Glenwood Centre. There will be temporary road closures and flaggers to ensure the procession proceeds safely. A service with family and firefighters will take place inside Glenwood Centre.
“It’s going to be a hard day,” Nicole said. “A hard day, but a beautiful day.”