MICS Saves the Day

Last Wednesday, July 25, our pagers went off for a structure fire on North road. As all of our FFs were heading for the fire hall, a second page came through, standing down our department, as the fire was on Mudge Island.

The relief of not having a structure fire to contend with on this extremely dry July morning quickly changed to concern, as Mudge doesn’t have an actual fire dept.

A small band of locals known as MICS, the Mudge Island Citizens Society,  have undertaken the task of acquiring equipment and training for a day like that morning.

As I drove onto Brickyard beach, I saw how urgent the developing scenario appeared. A wide plume of black smoke rose into the sky . Occasional flares of orange flames indicating that trees were candling. The plume seemed to be getting wider as I watched. Luckily there was no wind to spread it faster.

Within a few minutes, I could hear a siren from across the water. The retired Gabriola fire engine No.3 was responding, along with their other two trucks.

I knew the BC Wildfire Service would have been contacted as well. In a remarkably short period of time, the black smoke started to turn grey and patchy white, indicating water was being shot onto the fire.

A helicopter appeared and did a couple of loops around the fire site, then disappeared. There had been a second fire call on another island, and after reporting on the Mudge fire, it flew off to assess the other one.

Two more helicopters soon arrived and deployed Bambi buckets, which scooped up seawater and made numerous runs dousing the fire.  It was less than an hour after the fire started that the heli’s were dropping water, which IMO, is a pretty reasonable time for outside support crews to be active on a scene.

Later on, sprinklers were set up, and and the sound of a Wajax fire pump roared on until the next morning- to the reported chagrin of one Gabriolan.

MICS is to be commended for the great job they did containing the fire until the helicopters could deliver their payloads. Without them, the likelihood of a great deal more fire damage was a certainty. They deserve the support they get from fellow Mudgekins and others who have contributed to support this most essential endeavour.

This Saturday, MICS will be hosting their annual fundraiser, the money being used to keep them in business. With this past weeks event still fresh in everyone’s  minds, I suspect this may be a very successful event.

For more information on our neighbour, check out www.Mudge.ca

A Seasonal Burning Ban is Now In Effect

Due to continuing dry weather, a burning ban is now in effect.

Propane fireplaces with a flame height of 6” max are permitted, as are propane and briquette BBQs and hibatchis.

Cautious use of woodstoves for home heating is also allowed, but please ensure your chimney is clean, as a chimney fire could result in a fire speading to the underbrush, etc.

Hidden Fire Hazard

Fire crews responded to a house full of smoke page this morning. A search found that a light had been left turned on in a closet, and the light bulb had been in contact with bed sheets piled on a shelf. The hot light bulb started a smouldering fire in the closet.  Please make sure you don’t have a similar situation in your home. 

Bush Fire

Fire crews were paged to a bush fire on an acreage off of Taylor Bay road this afternoon. A westerly breeze had spread the fire to cover an area of about 1/2 acre.

Access to the area was good, so crews were able to quickly deploy hose lines and stop the fire from further spreading.  Completely extinguishing the fire took much longer, as the dry fuels will smoulder and flames can pop up for some times afterwards. The property owner, as well as fire officials, will keep a close eye on the site over the coming week to ensure their is no rekindling.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

New tanker truck

This past week we took possession of our newest fire vehicle- No. 10 – a 3000 imp. gallon (13,500 litre) water tanker- or tender in the latest fire fighting jargon.

This truck was built by Hub Fire vehicles of Abbotsford, and is similar to our No.2 tanker, which has been serving us well for the past 8 years.

In our department we have 4 tankers, which in effect, act as our fire hydrants. These trucks roll to one of 5 gravity fed hydrants located around the island and deliver the water back to the fire scene.

As you may recall, in 2007 we became the second volunteer fire department west of Ontario to earn the Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation, which is the equivalent to having a fire hydrant within 300 M of your home. (This should be stated on your insurance documents.)

We were actually the first department to earn this status without the assistance of neighbouring fire departments, resulting in savings to Gabriolan property owners millions of dollars per year in insurance costs.

To earn this status, amongst other factors, we needed to be able to deliver water from 5 kms away from the test site, and pump 200 gpm for 2 hours non stop.

No.10 will be serving our community for at least the next 30 years.

Free Batteries! (and an Open House)

Smoke alarms save lives!

With the recent time change, this is a perfect time to change the battery in your smoke alarm.  Batteries should be changed every six months, so taking care of it when you change your clocks is a great idea.

The GVFD is pleased to be able to provide you with free 9V batteries for your smoke alarms.  Just stop by the Albert Reed Memorial Firehall, 730 Church Street, between 10-3, Tuesday through Friday.

 

In addition to installing new batteries every six months, you should test your smoke alarms monthly, and ensure that they are clean, and free of dust.  If you would like more information about smoke alarms, please contact the GVFD.

For more information on fire related topics, come visit us at the fire hall Open House, on April 14th, 2018.  We can talk to you about smoke alarms, the FireSmart program, fire extinguishers (they’re for sale too), and many other things.  We will also try to have a few firefighters ready to demonstrate our new live fire training building!

Open House times and activities will be advertised closer to April 14th.

Jay Dearman’s Memorial

This is an information update regarding the memorial for GVFD firefighter Jay Dearman, scheduled for Feb.10, 14:00 hrs. at the Albert Reed Memorial Firehall, 730 Church st.

We are asking that anyone wishing to speak at the memorial contact GVFFA president Jenn Knight via email asap to have your name put on the list in advance of the gathering.

email:

JenMKnight@hotmail.com

To anyone attending from off island, we have arranged for our local bus to meet the 11:55 and the 13:10 ferry to shuttle people to the hall.

The bus will also shuttle people from the hall back to the ferry in time for the 16:20 and 17:35 sailings.

Follow the signs to various parking sites at the Church, the lower field at the firehall and a parking area past the hall.

To ensure no obstructions in the event of a response by BCAS or the Fire Dept., we will be restricting parking on Church street for the duration  of the event.

For more information, please contact the firehall office at 250-247-9677.

For more information please contact the office at the firehall at 250-247-9677

 

Remembering Jay Dearman

Jay Dearman, Gabriola firefighterOn January 24th, 2018, our friend and fellow firefighter Jay Dearman died. Jay was struck by a vehicle while out for a run along Berry Point Road.

Jay joined the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department in June of 2012. You may have seen him fighting a fire, responding to a motor vehicle incident, or attending a medical call as a first responder.

You may have known him for his exceptional cabinet-making skills, or as an avid fisherman, or for the decade he spent coaching junior softball on the Lower Mainland.  He loved people and people loved him.

We will remember Jay for the cheerful twinkle in his eye and his wide-ranging sense of humour. He was considerate, thoughtful, and kind.

Our whole department misses Jay greatly, and we are devastated by this loss. Our thoughts are with his family.

There will be a service for Jay at the Albert Reed Memorial Firehall (730 Church Street) at 2 pm on Saturday, February 10th, 2018.

Emergency notication system.

The earthquake in Alaska this morning has people asking about our emergency notication system.
Years ago we investigated putting sirens around the island but realized for them to be effective their would need to be a lot of them to cover the island and they would all need backup power in case of a power outage.
Please sign up for this system if you haven’t already.

Taylor Bay Rd blocked for 12 hours

As well as a number of MVI’s on December 29th, the heavy wet snow caused a large tree to fall across Taylor Bay Rd, by Ivory Way- right at the spot where the wires cross the road. Because the power lines and telecommunications cables were entangled with the tree, road crews were unable to remove it until BC Hydro could attend. Due to power outages from an extremely bad ice storm in the Fraser valley, many of the normally available crews had been dispatched to that area, so nobody was available to help us until early Saturday morning.

Until the new Church- Spruce roads connector is completed, Taylor Bay Rd is the only way for vehicles- and especially emergency vehicles- to attend any calls in those neighbourhoods. Luckily, no calls came in until after the road was opened, but it created a nervous atmosphere for Fire, Police and Ambulance personnel.

We are looking forward to the quicker response times and the secondary access once the new road is in service.

This brings to mind the other area on Gabriola with a sizeable population and a single road access- Whalebone. Residents of that area were similarly inconvenienced recently when BC Hydro needed to close off Barrett road while they were replacing 5 power poles on that hill. Had a situation occurred there as just happened on Taylor Bay road, that area would have been equally cutoff.

We need to create another road into the Whalebone neighbourhood. I believe an emergency road can be created by upgrading an old logging road that runs from Pequod, to, ideally North Rd, but if that’s not possible, then to Wild Cherry Terrace. The necessary land belongs to the Federal Government, and they previously gave permission to build this road. As usual, money is the issue. MOTI has none for us. We need to find a way to get that road built.

Snow causes 3 accidents

The snow squalls on December 29 th created lots of issues as about 2″ of extremely wet and slippery stuff got dumped on various parts of the island. Emergency crews responded to 3 of these MVI’s, culminating in the one on Taylor Bay road were one elderly gentleman piloted his convertible about 50 feet down into Mallet Creek. Luckily it remained on its wheels, and the driver only suffered minor injuries.
After extracting the patient from his vehicle and securing him in the rescue stretcher, firefighters used the low angle rope rescue equipment to pull him to the top of the ravine and deliver him to the waiting BC Ambulance crew.

6th Annual GVFD Food & Toy Drive

This Sunday, December 3rd, is the 6th Annual GVFD Food & Toy Drive!  We hope you will all help make this holiday season a little better for fellow Gabriolans in need.  All proceeds will be passed along to PHC for distribution.  On Sunday, please stop by one of our many festive totes to drop off your donation.

The Drive will take place between 4:30-7pm.  The trucks will be decorated with lights, and we’ll have candy canes to hand out, so please come and say hi at one of our many stops.  You can also pass along your donation directly to us.

Village Food Market, as in past years, has already started off the Drive with a fantastic donation of 800lbs of fresh produce!  Here are some of our firefighters, along with Village Food Market staff, PHC volunteers, and even Santa unloading the delivery.

We hope to see lots of people out on Sunday!  PHC will be providing hot chocolate at the end of the Drive at Folk Life Village.  Come have a warm drink, say hi to the firefighters, check out the trucks, drop off your donation, and maybe even sing a Christmas carol or two.  It’s going to be FUN!

Bush Fire

This morning the GVFD responded to a bush fire call.  We discovered a pile of stacked firewood burning, and a smoldering fire working it’s way up the hill.  It appears that someone had a campfire about 2 days ago, and did not completely extinguish it.  The stacked firewood was piled very close to the camp fire, and the area was not cleared of combustible material.  This fire could have been avoided if the burning regulations had been followed.
As a reminder:
– Only small 1/2m fires are permitted at this time.
– Theses fires must have a 1m perimeter of non-combustible material, and must be a safe distance from any combustible growth or objects.
– Fires must be continuously attended.A charged hose or 20L pail of water and a shovel must be kept available.
– Any costs incurred for extinguishing a fire may be charged to the property owner if the fire resulted from carelessness or a disregard of the burning regulations.
The GVFD burning regulations are available on our website (http://gabriolafire.ca/burning/burning-regulations/), in the Gabriola Directory, and from the firehall.

Early morning workshop fire


Our dept was paged at 04:44 Tuesday morning to a fully involved structure fire. The initial report came in as a large fire across Degnen Bay but with no address. This was quickly followed by the actual address on Martin Rd. The duty officer was first on scene, followed soon by the pumper truck from hall 2. The DO confirmed the report of a fully involved fire, with fire spreading into the woods. He requested our dispatch to have BC Wildfire Service deploy a helicopter asap. This would take a while as it was still too dark to fly.

A fast initial attack was made on the flames impinging on the dump truck parked in front of the shop, allowing the owner to gain access and drive it away from the building. The hood and fenders on the drivers side had begun to melt from the intense heat.

Meanwhile other vehicles and manpower were arriving and were deployed to the best advantage by the DO. Our bush truck was sent to the rear of the building to attack the fire in the trees and undergrowth. Luckily those exposures were able to be quickly brought under control, and the BCWS response was cancelled.

Extinguishing the contents of the metal clad shop took many hours, as openings in the walls had to be cut out of the collapsing building to gain access to the flames. The last vehicles stood down around noon.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation at this time.

As always I’m very proud of our members, who almost seem to materializes out of thin air whenever they are needed the most!

20 years with the GVFD


Bill Sprogis completed 20 years with our fire dept this past July. He has participated in many an adventure over those years and no doubt will be attending many more. Thanks for being here, Bill!


 

Vehicle fire on Gray Road

If you saw fire trucks heading to the south of the island on July 4th, it’s because we were on our way to a vehicle fire.

Here are a few photos of the scene, and the now burned-out van. Sorry we don’t have any dramatic shots of the huge flames, or of firefighters extinguishing the blaze. We were too busy to take photos at that point!

Click on any image to see a larger version.

Structure fire on Canada Day

On July 1st at 9:49 pm, Gabriola firefighters were paged to a structure fire. We spent about four hours on scene fighting this fire, and making sure that there was no danger of re-ignition once we had the fire knocked down.

Here are some photos from the fire. Click any image to see a larger version of it.

Land clearing debris issues

Recently, we have had discussions with RDN representatives regarding the establishment of a site where local land clearing and fire smarting debris could be delivered and processed. Unfortunately those discussions have not proved fruitful, and some uncomfortable realities are starting to manifest.

Our fire protect district regulations reflect provincial rules, which, amongst other things, does not permit the burning of land clearing debris on a property without adequate clearances from neighbouring properties. A 100m buffer is required before a permit can be issued to burn a Class A pile (which is a machine built pile larger than 2Mx2Mx2M (6’x6’x6′) containing stumps and debris larger than 4″ in diameter, as well as the fine fuels). To make matters worse, it is illegal to transport that debris to another unauthorized location to burn it. For many years we had a safe and effective authorized burn site on the island but that is no longer operational.

This puts many of the 600 or so remaining undeveloped properties in a problem situation, as the only remaining options are chipping it and using the chips on site (maximum depth 6″), or trucking the debris to Nanaimo to an accredited disposal site. Both of these options are much more expensive than burning, but they are the only options many property owners are currently left with.

Another less than satisfactory solution has started to be seen- piling the debris on the property which retains the fuel load and the potential fire risks. Separating the larger debris such as stumps and piling them is not a problem, as they are very unlikely to catch fire on their own, and have been used in some places to build stump fences.

The fine fuels do present a problem, as these are easily ignited twigs, branches and needles. One method is to bury the debris, thereby creating a situation where it is less likely to have a fire start, but this route- like chipping- does create the potential for the leachate to mix with the surrounding ground water, and possibly become an environmental issue for wells etc.

In conclusion, because the fire dept strongly discourages the piling of debris, trucking it off island  appears to be the best- but most expensive- solution to dispose of this debris.

We remain hopeful that a suitable on island solution can be found for this increasing problem. Perhaps there will be enough public interest to convince the RDN to have another look into this situation.

RDN Emergency Notification System

When there’s an emergency affecting our region, you’ll want to know what’s going on and what you should do. We’re here to tell you about a new way to get the information you need.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is launching a service that will keep you informed about emergency situations. This is the RDN Emergency Notification System – you can sign up for it by providing your phone number and email address. When there is a major emergency affecting our area, the system will call and email you to let you to give you emergency alerts and updates.

To sign up, head to https://rdnemergency.connectrocket.com

Questions? An RDN representative will be at our Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall, 730 Church Street, on Saturday, May 13th, from 1 to 4pm for our open house. You’ll be able to sign up for the system there, if you like, and ask questions as well.

It’s Time For Another Open House!

GVFD Open House – Saturday, May 13th

It’s time for another open house!  Come join us at the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall, 730 Church Street, from 1-4pm, on May 13th.
Gabriola firefighters will be there to talk about ways to FireSmart your property before the warm, dry summer weather gets here.  We will also have a wood chipper on site, so you can see how simple it is to use.  Chipping is a great alternative to burning all those pesky branches that are cluttering up your yard.  We have lots of FireSmart brochures, and are happy to discuss them with you.
Effective CPR save lives.  Want to learn basic, compression-only CPR?  Give us 30 minutes, and we will teach you, let you practice, and have a quick discussion about the automatic external defibrillators that are in more and more public areas.  Heart & Stroke Foundation Instructors, Jethro and Dimitri will be hosting CPR instruction every 1/2 hour during the Open House.
Do you have fire extinguishers at home or work?  Do you know how to use them safely?  Stop by and learn how to use an extinguisher properly.  Need an extinguisher?  We have them for sale at a great price.
We’ll also have one of our trucks set up with hoses flowing water for the kids (of all ages) to check out and try.
Just want to stop by and meet some of Gabriola’s firefighters and first responders?  You can do that too.  We’ll show you around the trucks, and answer any questions you may have.
We hope to see you there!
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