HORNBY ISLAND, B.C. – The former leader of Hornby Island’s fire department has passed away.

According to a statement from the department, retired chief Gifford LaRose passed away while on vacation over the weekend.

LaRose was a 20-year member of the department and served as its chief for 15 of those years until his retirement in 2017.

“Chief LaRose’s legacy with HIFR will be remembered as one of realized vision. Among other things, he was responsible for a network of water sources across our island, and was the driving force behind our beautiful new fire hall,” the department said in a statement on its website.

“Our department and the safety of our community is where it is today largely due to Giff’s vision and hard work. Aside from his incredible body of work with HIFR, he served on several community-based boards and worked hard to make our island community a better place to live.”

The department went on to say they were saddened to hear of LaRose’s passing, and are holding his family and many friends close in their thoughts.