Christmas Food and Toy Drive, 2014

gabriola-christmas-food-toy-drive-2014Gabriola’s 3rd annual Christmas Food and Toy Drive will be this Sunday, December 7th, 2014.

You’ll see wrapped totes around the island at pick-up spots; they’ll be out all day Sunday at each location. Please help fill those totes with non-perishable food items, or new, unwrapped toys.

Beginning at 5pm, you’ll see firefighters driving decorated fire trucks around the island, picking up your donations. If you like, come and meet the trucks! Our map shows pick-up points and approximate times, so you’ll know where to find those totes, and when to see trucks in your neighbourhood.

BC Ferries employees in the Nanaimo-side terminal of the Gabriola run have put up a Christmas tree in the waiting room. Donations left there will be delivered to the Gabriola Firefighters just before Christmas.

Donations will go to People for a Healthy Community.

(Click map image for bigger version.)

Working smoke detectors save lives

A seven year old boy from Nanaimo has died after he was overcome by fumes in a fire at his home this past week. A passing RCMP officer spotted the flames and alerted the family. He attempted to reach the boy on the second floor, but was unable to, due to the smoke and heat. Had it not been for the officer noticing the fire when he did, this tragedy would have been even worse.

I understand there was not a working smoke detector at this location. Had there been one the chances are very good that all of the family would have been alerted in ample time to escape.

PLEASE! Check to make sure your smoke detectors are operational, and less than 10 years old. If you can’t afford to buy one, call the Gabriola Fire Department (250-247-9677) and we will give you one.

With today’s cheap smoke detector technology their is no reason for people to die – usually in their sleep from carbon monoxide suffocation – in a fire.

Canada still has an unacceptably high rate of such deaths.

Another danger from freezing weather

This past Sunday our department was paged out for an “explosion and fire” at a residence that demonstrated the incredible power of freezing and steam.

The owners were away and the plumbing – including the heat exchanger in the wood stove – had frozen up. Some friends had come by and lit a fire hoping to defrost the place. A while after lighting the woodstove they heard a hissing sound,  followed by an incredibly destructive blast that demolished the stove, sending shrapnel throughout the house and yard, blowing out a number of windows and skylights.

One person was badly injured by the flying debris, and a number of small fires were started throughout the house from the stoves burning contents.

The picture above is of the remains of the heat exchanger from the woodstove, once a rectangular shape like the bottom section. The 3/16″ thick stainless steel was no match for the damage from freezing and then from the forces generated by the steam. For a mathematical perspective – a steam plant engineer has stated that 6 gallons of water heated to 350’F has the explosive force of 1 lb. of TNT. After seeing the damage to this home, I can say I have no problem believing those figures.

The New No. 6 – Duty Officer Vehicle

Gabriola truck number 6

 

Our new Honda Ridgeline is now in service as the Duty Officer vehicle. It is the first to respond to most incidents, equipt with medical equipment including an AED, a Thermal imaging camera (TIC), as well as fire extinguishers and incident command materials. It offers the convenience of a 4 door vehicle for carrying members, as well as a box for the occasional dirty, bulky thing it needs to move, and lots of compartments to stow it all in.

It replaces our Honda Element (No.7) which has been a great front line vehicle, and now is in service for medical call responses from Hall 2.

Electrical fire

burned-plugWe recently responded to a page for a structure fire. On arrival we found the house full of acrid plastic smelling smoke. The home owner directed us to the clothes dryer which had smoke rising from behind it. We immediately shut off the electrical breaker, determined that their were no flames present, and pulled the dryer out from the wall. We used our Thermal imaging camera (TIC) to determine that no heat or flames was present in the wall itself.

The problem was caused by a fault in the plug. Possibly the copper conductors inside had been damaged at some point while removing it, possibly by pulling the plug out by the wire.

If any of those copper conducting wires attaching the plug to the cord are broken, the electricity flows through the fewer remaining wires, and the resistance caused by this reduced conductor size generates heat, which can build up and further damage the plug.

Eventually the heat becomes great enough that the plastic starts to melt and / or burn.

If you have a plug or electrical cord that you suspect may be too hot, have it inspected by a qualified person.

Hallowe’en fireworks!

The Gabriola Firefighters’ Association invites you to their Hallowe’en fireworks show.

When: Friday, October 31st, 2014. 7 pm.
Where: Gabriola Sands Provincial Park. (Twin Beaches)

Expect great fireworks and a huge bonfire! Wear your Hallowe’en costume if you have one.

Firefighters will be serving hot dogs and hot chocolate. There will be candy for trick-or-treaters.

You can contribute to this event by putting money in our Hallowe’en fireworks boots. You’ll see them at some local businesses, and at the event. You might find firefighters asking for donations in the ferry line-up, too, or elsewhere in the community. Please support us so that we can continue this Gabriola tradition.

Open house! And fire safety week

October 5th to 12th is Fire Safety week. Please take the time to ensure all of your fire safety devices and fire escape plan are functional.

On Saturday October 11th we will be hosting an open house at Hall 1. It starts at noon, and goes until 3pm. We’ll have a fire hose for kids of all ages to try, some other fire fighting equipment demonstrations, and hot dogs and beverages by donations- proceeds toward our annual firework show. Application forms will also be available, so feel free to enquire if you have been contemplating becoming a fire fighter.

For your family’s safety:

Please ensure your smoke detectors are functional and are less than 10 years old. The BC building code requires one on each level of your home. The latest code requires one in each bedroom as well. Battery powered smoke detectors are acceptable, and are in some ways are preferable, as the 110V wired in models don’t work during a power outage- when we are most likely to be using candles! A battery powered detector located by the 110V- or a modern 110V one with a built in battery backup one is a good idea as well.

Special smoke detectors are available for the hearing impaired, as well as for areas that often give a false alarm, such as kitchens. Please call us if you would like more info on these. (250-247-9677 – office and message)

Fire extinguishers need to be examined on a regular basis to ensure they are operational- essentially that the pin retainer is intact, and the gauge is reading full. They need to be professionally serviced every 6 years. This service is reasonably cheap- much less than the price purchasing a new extinguisher. If in doubt, give us a call for info about where to take it.

It is a sensible idea to have an extinguisher on each level of your home. Mount them by the exit, as you don’t want to be searching for it in time of need. We sell top quality 5-pound ABC fire extinguishers at Hall 1 for wholesale prices.

GFPID special meeting

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GABRIOLA FIRE PROTECTION IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT
SPECIAL MEETING – OCTOBER 8, 2014, 7:30 P.M., NO. 1 HALL

There will be a Special General Meeting for the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the No. 1 Fire Hall (730 Church Street). The purpose of the meeting will be to elect a member of the public, a registered land owner in the Improvement District and a Canadian Citizen 18 years or older, for a vacancy on the Board of Trustees, to fill the remainder of a term of approximately 2 years (April 2016). Nominations accepted from the floor.

Bicycle safety on Gabriola

I’m sure anyone who has been on Gabriola for a even a short time realizes that this can be a dangerous place to ride a bicycle.

Every year our department responds to a number of bicycle accidents involving injuries, and this situation is not about to improve from a highways development perspective.

Perhaps there should be a guide rating various Gulf Islands for their ease of riding, along with the safest routes for an enjoyable bicycle ride?

Little things like waiting until all of the vehicle traffic has left the ferry would certainly make riding up the hill safer, and more pleasant to breathe.

Face fit tests for firefighters

face fit test: Walter BerryWhen firefighters enter a burning building, they wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield them from heat and to ensure that they don’t breathe smoke.

For each firefighter, PPE includes a mask and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). It’s crucial that the mask fit properly and seal tightly. To ensure that it does, every firefighter must pass a “face fit” test every year. This is a requirement of WorkSafe BC — and a requirement that is just fine with us!

Here you see firefighter Walter Berry wearing his mask while hooked up to the testing apparatus.

Smoke on the island

A slightly orange light and a distinct smell of smoke is lingering around the island and is expected to persist for a number of days, according to a BCForest service report.

Outflow weather from the interior has brought the smoke of many forest fires into our airshed.

With this situation comes the danger of people becoming complacent with the smell of smoke, and a actual emergency could be masked, and a 911 call delayed for longer than might otherwise be the case.

Power equipment usage during restrictions

We have received some question regarding power equipment usage during restricted times. Generally speaking these restrictions apply to machines that are likely to cause an issue- chainsaws, lawnmowers, weed-eaters, as well as heavy equipment such as backhoes and excavators.

The BC Forest service issues a list of different types of jobs and their relative risk factors that our department uses as a guideline. Logging, for instance has a high fire risk factor during very dry weather and so it is restricted. Loading those logs onto a truck at a roadside dump is considered a low risk hazard and therefore is allowed. Digging an excavation to build a house in an area already cleared is also low risk, as is running a compactor or generator inside an area like a foundation.

Which brings me back to the original question- skill saws, electric drills, compressors and other such construction tools generally would be a low hazard application, and as long as there isn’t a potential issue created by piled up sawdust or chips -a fuel load- then these should be acceptable to use during restrictions.

If in doubt, please call us, as knowing who is doing what and where is beneficial knowledge to us in the event of a problem or complaint.

Auto-extrication training in the old hall

Auto-extrication practice in the old fire hall.From time to time people ask us what we use our old fire hall for, so we thought we’d show you one of the things we do there. (Click photo to see a larger version of it.)

This is a photo we took last fall during auto-extrication training – that is, training to get victims out of automobiles after crashes.

The red vehicle has been imobilized by a thing called the telecrib: that is the red and blue metal support you see in the corner of the vehicle.

Firefighters on the ground are playing the role of first responders, who tend to the medical needs of the patients. (The patient in this case is a mannequin.)

The firefighters wearing red helmets are our training officers, Will Sprogis and Jethro Baker.

In the rear of the vehicle, a firefighter is about to cut through the vehicle using hydraulic cutters (jaws of life).

Our department’s marine division

firefighter-nigel-boat

The Gabriola fire protection bylaws extend our jurisdiction 100m from the shore into the ocean to give us the authority to respond to incidents on docks, etc.

In recent years we have had to respond to a couple of incidents involving people in the water, so our Cpt. Will Sprogis repaired this inflatable boat he discovered in someone’s trash. Pictured is Lt. Nigel Denholm piloting our new marine division.

For a more serious marine incident, be would be assisted by the Coast Guard, Nanaimo Fire Dept’s firefighting vessel Eagle, as well as any other vessels that are deemed necessary to support our dept.

Spontaneous combustion in a flower planter

imageRecently a women called the fire dept after she noticed smoke coming from this planter on her deck. Upon closer examination it was evident that there was a lot of heat generated, melting the planter. The planter was full of soil and topped with peat moss. Moist peat moss has been known to spontaneously combust. This is also a danger with damp BBQ briquettes, and of course oily or greasy rags.

(Click image to see a larger version of the photo.)

Firefighter rappelling

Our training session this week involved rappelling down a cliff and climbing back up again – necessary skills for Gabriola firefighters, as we are called when people get injured on slopes.

In these two photos you see firefighter Peter Wishinski. In the first shot he’s at the top of the cliff, getting ready. In the second photo, you see Peter beginning his descent.

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