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.
Leaning back and starting to descend.
The Gabriola Fire Hall does not have a fireman’s pole. When we’re upstairs and our pagers go off, we hurry down the stairs.
Have you ever wondered how the idea of having fireman’s poles came about in the first place? Or why fire halls don’t have them anymore? If so, you might be interested in this article at Priceonomics: The rise and fall of the fireman’s pole.
The rain on Wednesday has prevented an escalation of the fire hazard to Extreme. In anticipation of a further drying trend expected to start today, we are leaving the rating at High Early Shift for now.
NOTE: This post was made on July 24th; our wildfire hazard rating has changed since then. To view the current status, see the sidebar or the current wildfire hazard rating for Gabriola page.
Last night we put up the ‘no fire’ signs all around Gabriola, and switched our fire status to high early shift.
We’re always concerned about the risk of wildfire on Gabriola, so we practice wildland firefighting skills regularly. Here are some photos from Tuesday night’s practice, which was up in the Legends area at the end of Seymour Road.
We began by driving our wildland truck into the forest, setting up a portatank (not shown here, but explained in another post) and carrying hose into the scene. Once we had water flowing some firefighters manned the hoses, spraying class A fire foam into the trees. This foam is used both to extinguish fires, and to coat nearby trees or houses in order to protect them from fire.
Other firefighters used water backpacks, which are perfect for extinguishing small fires in grass or brush.
Gabriola firefighters preparing to carry hose into scenario location. Shown here: Syreeta Caron, Zoe Lenko, Kyle Clifford, Felix Amuir.
Spraying class A fire foam onto grass and trees.
Firefighter Syreeta Caron. Sitting on the fire hose is a great way to conserve energy!
Firefighters Zoe Lenko and Felix Amuir are wearing water backbacks.
Click on any of the images here if you’d like to see a larger version.
At 11 pm last night our pagers went off, and the message dispatch gave us was “report of a bush fire, visible from Nanaimo.” This is alarming because Gabriola is dry right now, and a wildfire could be devastating.
Within minutes, most of our trucks and our command vehicle were on the road, and firefighters began looking for the fire. So if you saw fire trucks driving around last night, that’s why.
We looked and looked, but found no fire. We smelled no smoke. In the end, we concluded that the caller had been mistaken, so we stood down and went back to our respective halls. And then to bed.
It’s that time of year again when one careless person can seriously affect everyone’s safety. If you see someone toss a cigarette from a car – or otherwise dispose of one irresponsibly – please take the time to give the licence number to us, or the RCMP. At the present time we are not permitted to use stocks for these situations, but at the very least, a good talking to will be in order.
Last night our firefighting practice was at Degnen Bay. This overview shot was taken from the end of Maple Lane, where there’s a public access trail down the hill to Degnen dock.
The immense spray of water you see in this photo is coming from our hose line, and is directed out towards an imaginary boat fire.
Here are two more photos of this practice session:
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Our ham-radio friends sent us this announcement:
Visit the radio room in the new firehall for amateur radio field day on June 28th 10 am to June 29th 10am.
This annual North American event is organized to test and demonstrate amateur radio communications in times of disaster.
All are welcome to drop in at any time during the event.
The radio room is in the basement of Fire Hall Number 1, on the side that faces the Old Fire Hall. The radio room has its own entrance on that side of the building.
Gabriola firefighters extinguished a fire on the beach at Sandwell this morning.
It appears the fire was the result of someone’s unextinguished beach fire. The wind had spread it throughout the logs and it was heading for the grass on the dyke.
From Fire Hall Number 1, a number of our trucks responded: 5, 12, 4, and 7. A crew of 6 hiked in with a pump and tools to extinguish the fire. It took them about an hour to put it out.
Here’s a photo:
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Last night’s training session involved rescuing our manequin from a confined space. We used a large tank as the confined space, and had it filled with artificial smoke. These two photos give you an idea of what’s involved in the rescue.
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Did you notice? This snapshot of ours is on the front page of the Flying Shingle this week.
This photo shows firefighter Will Sprogis (in the red helmet) using a thermal imaging camera. The fire we found has been extinguished; Will is looking to see if any parts of the building are really hot, which would indicate a hidden fire that our crews would need to expose and extinguish.
On the left of the photo you can see a bit of a hoseline and nozzle in the picture. If a fire had been found, the firefighter on that hoseline would have extinguished it.
Our fire chief, Rick Jackson, is looking on. He’s the guy in the white helmet.
The Shingle story is here: Fire crews dispatch fire on Brown’s way.
Here’s more about that fire from our blog: A June morning structure fire.
Today Gabriola firefighters spent several hours in front of the elementary school, running a car wash. If you stopped by with dirt all over your car, you left with a sparkling clean vehicle.
Donations from this event came to about $1500.00. The money will go to the Burn Fund for their Young Burn Survivor Camp.
Shown in this image: Lee Dunbrack and Evan McIntosh.
(Related news article in the Gabriola Sounder: Fundraising Car Wash & bottle drive for BC Burn Fund.)
This morning Gabriola firefighters were up early again – this time to fight a structure fire in a small home.
Here’s a photo we managed to get of our attack team inside the building:
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The wildfire risk in California is greater than we usually face here on Gabriola, so Californians tend to be more organized than we are when it comes to wildfire prevention.
Here they’re using goats to help prevent wildfire. The idea is that the goats eat dry brush, so they remove fuel for fires.
You may not have goats to do the job, but removing fuel for wildfires is a good idea. For more info on that, see the wildfire section of our website.
Ever wonder what we use our old fire hall for? It’s become a very useful training building for us!
In this training simulation, firefighters are entering with a charged hoseline to search for, and extinguish, the fire.
(There isn’t a real fire in the building, by the way. We use a smoke machine for training purposes. Training with real fires in buildings is done off-island at special facilities.)
Can you see an address sign here? Neither can we.
What if somebody has a heart attack here, or a serious injury, and needs help in a hurry? What if that somebody calls 911, and what if a few minutes could make the difference between life and death?
And then what if, after rushing to the street, first responders can’t figure out which driveway belongs to the caller – because none of the driveways on this street have address signs?
It’s frustrating for everybody, especially when the caller’s need is urgent.
If your place is missing an address sign, first responders and firefighters will be delayed when we try to find you. Wouldn’t you rather have us find you quickly if you call for our help?
If you drive along South Road, you might notice a road cutting into the forest towards the 707 Acre Park, just near the intersection of Crestwood and South Road. It crosses private property, then connects with the road system in the 707.
The RDN recently put a gate across that road. Our hope is that nobody will park in front of the gate and block access! If there’s a fire in the 707, this will be an important access point for us.
Here’s a photo from our practice last night in Gabriola’s 707 Acre Park.
You’re looking at a portatank and Truck 5.
A portatank is kind of like a swimming pool. We can set it up quickly and dump water into it. Then the truck that will be pumping water can draft (suck) water from the portatank, while other trucks go to the hydrant to get more water.
Having several trucks on water supply runs ensures that we’ll have the water we need to fight the fire.