Firefighters carry the casket of longtime colleague Kevin Hegarty toward Peace Portal Alliance Church Monday.

Firefighters carry the casket of longtime colleague Kevin Hegarty toward Peace Portal Alliance Church Monday.

South Surrey firefighter ‘turned his battle into helping others’

More than 600 firefighters gathered in South Surrey Monday to pay tribute to Kevin Hegarty.

More than 600 firefighters from across Canada gathered in South Surrey Monday to remember one of their brothers – a man who “cared about people, cared about his job, cared about helping people.”

“Today was a very sad day,” said Mike McNamara, following the private service at Peace Portal Alliance Church for his close friend and colleague, Kevin Hegarty.

The acting captain at South Surrey’s Hall 13 died March 1 after years of helping others on the job deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition he himself lived with.

“He turned his battle into helping others,” fire Chief Len Garis said of the 53-year-old father. “That’s the kind of guy he was.”

In Hegarty’s honour, Garis pledged that more would be done to continue the firefighter’s work. He was an advocate for mental health, worked with the BC Burn Fund and assisted the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society.

“He tried to help others with what he was suffering with,” Garis said. “That became him and he died from that. Kevin’s legacy will be something that we can build together, so this does not happen again.”

McNamara said Hegarty’s death was a shock to all who knew him. In the days prior, Hegarty was “happy and jovial,” he said.

Following the service, firefighters lined either side of the route leaving the church, saluting a final farewell to Hegarty as his casket passed.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Surrey Fire Fighters’ Charitable Society, the Canadian Mental Health Association or BC Burn Fund “in memory of Kevin Hegarty” are encouraged.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

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