Cam Ferguson named Muscular Dystrophy Canada's Firefighter of the Year.

Cam Ferguson has been working to support Muscular Dystrophy patients for years. -
Cam Ferguson has been working to support Muscular Dystrophy patients for years.
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Cam Ferguson lives and breaths firefighting.

Appropriately, the Cowichan Bay fire hall's deputy-chief, and Department of National Defence's Esquimalt fireman, has been named Firefighter of the Year by Muscular Dystrophy Canada.

Ferguson, 35, was stoked about news he'll receive the Dr. David Greene award Oct. 27.

"It was definitely a surprise for me," said Ferguson, Cowichan's first firefighter to gain the honour, named after MD Canada's founder, Dr. Greene.

MD Canada's award goes to a firefighter who, during the past year, helps battle the neuromuscular disorder through public awareness, recruitment, and fundraising — such as Ferguson's volunteer hall's involvement in the annual Walk For MD.

"Firefighters are heavily involved in MD, and other charities, because they genuinely feel it's the right thing to do; you do it for the purpose of helping others.

"Firefighters get into the business to help others, not for self recognition.

"This is a huge honour, but I feel what I do shouldn't be singled out. I do it because I love it."

Courting fire safety began at age four when his father, Dave, joined the Cow Bay hall after moving his family to Cowichan from Kamloops.

"The writing was on the wall about what I wanted to do with my life," said Ferguson, who joined the hall in '93.

His dad was Cow Bay's chief from 2000 to 2009.

"I grew up in the fire service and knew it was something I couldn't wait to get involved with."

So involved he earned his firefighting certification ticket with the fire academy in 2000.

"Like any trade, you go to school and get your papers."

He landed work at the Esquimalt base in 2003 while battling local blazes in his off hours with the bay's 30-member crew.

"I'm a firefighter through and through," he beamed. "It's my day job, and my extracurricular activity.

"I get involved with other branches of what we do, and MD is a huge piece of that puzzle."

The history of firefighters' MD involvement dates to 1954 when MD Canada asked firefighters to be the community face of the drive to snuff the degenerative disease.

"Firefighters back east jumped in, and it spread like wildfire," Ferguson said of members who also kindle cash for burn-units and the cancer society.

Still, MD —arson aside— is a firefighter's worst enemy.

"MD creates serious health risks affecting the heart and lungs — it's a slow digression," he said.

That's why Canuck hose-haulers pump some $2 million a year into MD research — including about $20,000 annually from the valley's Boot Drive, and other events.

"We're the single-largest non-corporate fundraisers for MD," said Ferguson, touting the Dec. 7 and 8 Boot Drive For MD.

He cheered Cowichanians' giving, despite hard times.

"Through all the economic hardships around Catalyst and the forest industry, people continue to be so generous toward us and the cause."

Fire chief Ken Bulcock said Ferguson's award is well deserved — and a great honour for his hall.

"Cam continues daily to try and find new ways to raise (MD) money, and attends functions throughout the year on behalf of MD.

"He was shocked when he received the award. Cam puts his heart and soul into fundraising for MD."

Ferguson cheered locals who raised more than $1,600 to fight MD during Canada Safeway Duncan's Aug. 18 Making Muscles Move campaign as local firefighters bagged groceries for donations.

"Duncan's Safeway was the top store B.C. for fundraising during the weekend. It blew them, and us, away.

"That's why I enjoy doing what I do; it's such a heartwarming experience helping others live a productive, meaningful life," the father of two said.

Ferguson hopes MD will be history some day.

"Through research, innovations and new drugs, life expectancy for people with MD is dramatically increasing.

"Though we don't have a cure yet, we're increasing their quality of life, and length of life," he said.

"Eventually we'll crack this nut."

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