Surrey firefighters remember Capt. Piticco, who died in the line of duty

Agencies including WorkSafe B.C. attributed his illness to his 32 years of service as a firefighter

  • Jan. 25, 2016 9:00 a.m.

Fire department officials at the funeral service for Surrey Fire Service Capt. Randy Piticco on Sunday (Jan. 24) at Bell Performing Arts Centre in Surrey.

By Dan Fumano, The Province

SURREY — Before the final ringing of the bell for Randy Piticco on Sunday evening, the Surrey fire captain was remembered for his “famous family-secret risotto recipe,” meticulous attention to detail and order, and passion for helping people.

Piticco, who died last month of lung cancer at age 61, was honoured Sunday (Jan. 24) in front of family, friends and hundreds of uniformed firefighters, some of whom came from as far as Vancouver Island and the Okanagan.

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO

After eulogies and tributes, two firefighters took the stage of the Bell Centre for the Performing Arts in Surrey and rang a silver bell nine times, a centuries-old tradition, the chaplain said, that “reflects respect and honour to those who give their lives to their duty.”

Though Piticco retired from the Surrey Fire Service more than five years ago, his death was deemed a “Line of Duty Death” because agencies including WorkSafe B.C. attributed his illness to his 32 years of service as a firefighter.

In recent years, said Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, trained firefighters have less to fear about physical injury running into a burning building.

He said he worries more about “silent” killers.

“It’s the cancer, the silent thing we’re seeing, and post-traumatic stress and mental health issues associated with the stress of the job,” Garis said. “That’s where we’re losing our firefighters … It’s those hidden things we’re starting to discover and we need to get on those things quickly.”

Garis co-authored a report published last June by the University of the Fraser Valley, examining “amplified cancer rates in firefighters” from exposure to carcinogens.

It says something about the commitment of these men and women, Garis said, who show up for work every day in the service of others, despite the knowledge of the elevated risk of illness.

“It’s not a job. It never has been. You’ll find this is a lifestyle for these folks,” Garis said. “That’s why it’s so tragic when we lose one of our family members.”

Randy Piticco always wanted to be a firefighter, said retired Surrey Fire Batallion Chief Lorne West.

West and Piticco grew up together in Whalley, met at Old Yale Road Elementary School, and, as soon as they were old enough, they signed up together for volunteer firefighting.

“Randy, in my mind, defined really what it meant to be a firefighter,” said West. “All Randy ever wanted to do his whole life was help people.”

Piticco’s obituary described him as “a kind, honest, selfless, brave and honourable man,” and said he was survived by his wife Marilyn, his sister, his father, two children and four granddaughters.

In a procession along 144 Street to the service, behind the pipes and drums and rows of marching firefighters, five uniformed men rode on a restored antique fire truck with the urn containing Piticco’s remains.

The story of that vehicle, a 1920 American LaFrance fire truck, was recalled by Mike McNamara, president of the Surrey Fire Fighters Association.

According to McNamara, when Randy Piticco was 12 or 13 years old, he tagged along one day with his father Lido, a Surrey fire captain, to a fire at Burns Bog.

While wandering around the flats, the young Piticco stumbled upon an abandoned fire truck buried in the mud. He told his dad about the discovery, and the Surrey Firefighters’ Association came together to buy the old truck from the property’s owner, and restored it.

“That truck is now the pride of our fleet,” said McNamara, whose own father served as a Surrey firefighter alongside Lido Piticco.

During the funeral service, McNamara said: “It’s very fitting that today, Randy got his last ride in it.”

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey hair salon joins sustainability initiative

Hair can be used to create boom to clean up oil spills: Green Circle Salons

White Rock breaks temperature record

B.C. city was the hottest in all of Canada

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

VIDEO: Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Price makes 36 saves as Habs edge Canucks 3-2

Late goal lifts Montreal past Vancouver

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

Most Read