For 38 years Mike Richards has served the community he was raised in, and on Wednesday, April 22, he took off his uniform for the last time.
The soon-to-be retired Penticton Fire Department Captain served many roles throughout his time at the detachment.
As of the end of today, Richards is on vacation until he officially retires at the end of May.
“Mike has put in 38 years in the Penticton Fire Department, and tomorrow he’ll be retiring from our organization, healthy, and looking forward to a long and prosperous retirement,” said Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson in a presentation to council Tuesday.
“Mike has made a tremendous contribution to our community, being in the fire prevention division for the majority of his career.
Starting out as a paid-on-call firefighter, he eventually moved to a career position as a dispatcher, and from there he pursued the education necessary to become a fire prevention inspector. Richards ended his career as captain of fire prevention, serving as the section leader of the fire prevention division.
“A lot of your probably know Mike,” continued the fire chief. “He has impacted our community dramatically and kept our building’s safe. I just wanted (to give) a big shout-out to Mike and the team that he’s led over the last number of decades, and (we) certainly appreciate his work here in Penticton.”
Simultaneously throughout the majority of his career, Richards served as president of the Penticton Professional Firefighters Union Local 1399 for nearly two decades.
“He’s done a lot for both the firefighters, and for the department,” said Penticton Fire Department deputy chief Chris Forster.
Forster further explained Richards has been instrumental in bringing about many changes to both City bylaws and legal requirements with regards to fire prevention and safety.
“Ultimately, literally, (he) has been the forefront of … bringing things in that would enhance the safety of the city for the citizens,” said Forster.
As of today, Ken Barber with the Penticton Fire Department has moved into the position of captain of fire prevention.