Dave Cockle with the Pacific Northwest Preparedness Society Award of Excellence awarded to him during the Emergency Preparedness & Business Continuity Conference in Vancouver Nov. 1. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Embracing emergency management earns Oak Bay chief Pacific Northwest award of excellence

“If all of our residents are personally prepared emergency management is pretty easy.”

Dedication to his craft earned Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle the Pacific Northwest Preparedness Society Award of Excellence during the Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity Conference in Vancouver Nov. 1.

“It was kind of a surprise,” he said the next day. “They had nice things to say about me, I was humbled by it.”

He was humbled and honoured by the award from his peers in a room full of of fire chiefs, emergency program coordinators, scientists and specialists all working together to try and resolve issues around risk management.

But those who work alongside him weren’t shocked by the recognition of his leadership for commitment to both the BC Earthqauake Alliance and its initiative ShakeOut BC. While they may not all recognize him as fire chief, most in the room knew Cockle, says Eileen Grant, manager of the Oak Bay Emergency Program.

“Dave has been a huge presence in emergency management ever since he became deputy fire chief. He has embraced emergency management like few do,” Grant said. “He really is part of the solution. That’s really how he approaches this and how he contributes. There’s never a challenge Dave won’t talk about, won’t sit down and work through with people.”

Cockle serves as president of the earthquake alliance and is past president of ShakeOut.

“He has nurtured a very committed ShakeOut committee and they’re all young and they are committed to making this work. And Dave does it off the side of his desk – everybody does it off the side of their desk,” Grant said.

“I’m pretty proud of the work that not only give done but the work done by the BC Earthquake Alliance and ShakeOut BC. This year we had 896,000 people registered,” Cockle said. “That’s just a huge piece, that’s changing the culture of how people think. I’m pretty proud of that … my team just makes it happen.”

The reference to team is also indicative of a leadership style – issuing credit for work well done.

“That’s not sometime that everyone remembers to do, but Dave always remembers to do it,” Grant said.

Cockle is also active with the Oak Bay Kiwanis (currently serving as chair of the Kiwanis Pavilion Society board) and other community initiatives such as his “arrest” for a Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock fundraiser last month.

He’s driven by helping people.

“I believe in what we’re doing. That’s what you sign up for as a public servant, to assist people,” Cockle said.

“I’m a proponent of making sure people are personally prepared and they understand the risks,” Cockle said. “We live in a beautiful part of the world but there are inherent risks here. ShakeOut is the perfect tool for that, it teaches us to ‘drop, cover and hold on.’ We don’t even have to think about it even more.

“I truly believe that the work we’ve done to change the culture of apathy here with our residents is showing and people are taking notice.”

The next step for him, is the push to continue work with Ocean Networks Canada to develop an early warning system.

“Which will give our residents just that few seconds of time to prepare. That’s a huge step from where we were five years ago, 10 years ago 15 years ago when we first started talking about being prepared for an earthquake,” Cockle said. “If all of our residents are personally prepared emergency management is pretty easy. If we’re not in chaos it just makes everybody’s job so much easier.”



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Dave Cockle with the Pacific Northwest Preparedness Society Award of Excellence awarded to him during the Emergency Preparedness & Business Continuity Conference in Vancouver Nov. 1. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

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