VICTORIA – From major fires to park rescues, if it happened in View Royal over the past 35 years, fire chief Paul Hurst was probably there.

Hurst first began his career at the View Royal Fire Department when he was just 16. The young Hurst volunteered with the department until he was hired on as a full-time member three years later at the age of 19.

With years of service in the community under his belt, Hurst became fire chief in 2006, and looking back he has a lot to be proud of.

In 2014, he was one of the first on the scene of a house fire, and, while he was not wearing protective gear, the chief held his breath and charged inside the building. He emerged from the house with a little girl in his arms and is credited with saving her life.

"I took a quick look and said, 'I can do this,'" said Hurst shortly after the fire. "I can get in there, I can grab this person and I can pull this person out."

The chief also oversaw the construction of a new fire hall in the community, and says that he is proud to help direct a fire department that is mainly made up of volunteers.

"Without the volunteers this organization doesn't exist," says Hurst. "They are the backbone of this organization." 

The chief is also known as an official who tells it like it is. One recent summer, the View Royal Fire Department was called to Thetis Lake to assist with some intoxicated lake-goers.

"Spending a day at the park shouldn't involve the fire department and paramedics showing up to pick you up off the ground at the end of the day because you decided to drink a case of beer or smoke a bag of weed," said Hurst at the time.

"Maybe he could be a little less blunt but I can understand why he's blunt about it," said View Royal Mayor David Screech after the rescue. 

On Tuesday, Hurst was presented with a plaque to honour his 35 years of service in View Royal. It's a decades-long career that Hurst hopes is far from over.