Firefighters and first responders from across the province gathered in Kelowna on Friday to honour the late Fire Capt. Joe Kolar.
Highly regarded by his peers, Kolar died of lung cancer on Oct. 31, which was caused by nearly 30 years as a firefighter. A public procession and a line of duty death ceremony was held at Tinity Baptist Church to mark his passing.
“The death of a firefighter is a community event, as well as a family event and we feel your pain and as a community we stand with you in that,” said Phil Collins, the fire department’s chaplain.
During the funeral, Kolar’s family received the Martin E. Pierce commemorative line-of-duty death medal, service medals, a flag, his fire helmet, and his uniform cap.
Kelowna Fire Department’s Chief Travis Whiting and Local 0953 president Troy Mamchur both spoke at the ceremony, before friends and family gave a tribute to the late firefighter.
“He was regarded as a great firefighter, a great listener, a great teammate, a great captain, and a great leader,” said Whiting.
“Joe was a captain, and a good one. He was a positive leader that made those around him better. We trade no firefighter. We’re down one and we refuse to lose another one. Let’s celebrate Joe and let’s use his positive approach as inspiration, as commitment to fitness, to training … let’s honour Joe by committing to keeping each other safe.”
Mamchur echoed his colleagues words.
“Joe was one of those people that many of us went to for advice. He always seemed wise beyond his years … I think his parenting advice is golden,” said Mamchur.
Kolar started working with the Kelowna Fire Department in 1991 before moving to a career position with the department in 1999. He was promoted as captain in July 2018. He was a member of the technical rescue team, specializing in tower and freight rescue, as well as water and confined space rescue.
Kolar’s daughters Ashley and Taylor also wrote a tribute to honour their father.
“We are so proud to have been raised by such a special man,” Taylor read.
“We may be biased but we think Joe had it all: handsome guy, cool nickname, healthy marriage, healthy relationships with his kids, a career that truly gave him purpose, a community of supportive brothers through all of life’s trials and tribulations, and more kindness and love packed into a man than any of us will comprehend.”
Kolar is survived by his wife Lisa, daughters Ashley and Taylor, son-in-law Brock and grandson.