Gabriola Island Emergency Preparedness Open House

On Saturday January 25th from 10am to 3pm the Gabriola Fire Hall on Church Street will be hosting an Emergency Preparedness Open House

Multiple agencies will be on-site with demonstrations and information, as well as actively recruiting volunteers:

  • Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department
  • HAM radio
  • RCMP
  • BC Ambulance Service (BCAS)
  • Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSARS)
  • Emergency Social Services (ESS)
  • Pets and Livestock Services (PALS)
  • Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness Services (NEPS)
  • Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN)

Two of the main presentations will be Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness by NEPS and Downed Power Line Safety by BC Hydro. There will also be demonstrations on live fire, CPR, fire extinguishers, and “fire smarting” your property.

There will be information packages available about:

  • Fire Smart
  • Neighbourhood Emergency Preparedness
  • Block Watch Information from the RCMP
  • as well as many other important topics for our community!

This is an all-ages event for the whole family with lots of fun stuff for kids to explore and participate in, including a family scavenger hunt where the prize is a FREE Emergency Preparedness Kit!

We hope to see you out for a fun day of education as well as learning about the many local volunteer opportunities for you to help keep our community safe!

 

FireSmart Community Champion Workshop

Are you keen to help yourself and your neighbours by moving towards being a recognized FireSmart community?

We will be hosting a Community Champion Workshop on Monday, August 19, 2019.

Space is very limited, so if you are interested, reserve your spot ASAP by calling the GVFD fire hall, at (250)247-9677.

This workshop is geared towards those people who are willing to step forward and be a leader in their neighbourhood.  Please see the PIP CCW Recruit Flyer for more information.

Chimney fire spreads to roof moss

Monday morning firefighters were paged to a report of a structure fire. On arrival, members found the homeowner had extinguished a fire in the moss on the roof. The fire appears to have started when sparks from the chimney landed in the very dry moss on the roof.

it is extremely important to ensure both your chimney is clean and the roof is free of any combustible debris if you need to use your wood stove for heat during the summer months.

Do not burn paper, garbage, or anything else that can cause sparks to emit from the chimney and land in any combustible materials

 

 

GVFD Open House

The GVFD officers and firefighters will be hosting an Open House at the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall (North Hall), from 10am-2pm on Saturday, April 6, 2019.

Come meet our crew, look at the hall and trucks, and take part in some informative and fun demonstrations, including:

  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Fire Smart your property
  • CPR
  • Smoke Detectors
  • Watch our firefighters training in our live burn building.
  • Let the kids try spraying water from the ground monitor.
  • Chat with people from the RDN, ESS, and PALS about emergency preparedness.

Reminder: With the recent time change, it’s a great idea to install new batteries in all your smoke detectors, and make sure they work properly.  Working smoke detectors save lives.

Christmas 2018 Wind Storm

Now that some time has passed and everyone here has their services restored (3-10 days after the storm) we should have a quick look at the situation.

All of Gabriola and much of southern BC was affected by the winds that knocked down trees and wires, flattened buildings and cars, and generally upset humanity throughout the region.

I was off duty during for most of this period, but was able to monitor as our able Duty Officer implemented a strategy for dealing with the storm’s aftermath. Along with numerous pages for hydro fires, medical aids, ambulance assists and a structure fire, our fire crews attempted to determine how much of the island was inaccessible. While doing this, when safe to do so, they would cut up the trees to open those roads to traffic. Many places had dangerously entangled trees mixed with power and communication lines, and both they and the highways crews were unable to clear those roads. It was important to establish which areas were inaccessible and to determine alternate response routes if possible, before the callouts came in.

By the second day, it was apparent the power wouldn’t be back on soon, and the RDN opened an emergency comfort site at the Rollo seniors centre. This provided a place of warmth, a tea or coffee, and information that helped people make decisions about how to cope with this situation. A message was sent out via email, phone, text and radio to inform residents it was operating. I believe the RDN will be further working on improving this strategy for next time.

Over at the Coop gas station an issue with their newly installed generator meant it was unable to operate at full power, which restricted normal services and caused them to have to close at dark. (In future outages the generator will be operating correctly, and they anticipate normal services and operating hours.)

Their power situation no doubt created the ‘fuel shortage’ concerns which prompted the long lineups. Coop staff were “corralling cats”, as one person called it, trying to maintain order and safety while cars darted around and created some mayhem while lining up along North road, past Robert’s restaurant. The next day they moved the lineup to Lockinvar, and it was a much safer situation. With a limited staff they did an admirable job under trying circumstances.

I was told that, even with those extra fuel sales, the fuel supplies were expected to have lasted until they received the scheduled delivery on Wednesday. As well, a discussion was initiated with BC Ferries regarding the possibility of a special dangerous cargo sailing on the Monday, had their been a danger of running out.

(Incidentally, if for any reason the fuel supplies are severely depleted, a certain percentage will be reserved for fire department, ambulance and police vehicles.)

These extended episodes always stimulate a desire in some for more emergency planning. Usually that desire wanes considerably once the power comes back on. What percentage of the population is prepared to be self sufficient for a week, which is the official recommendation?  Single digits is my guess.

Still, it’s clearly prudent to give some thought to how ones basic needs will be met, and/or to consider alternative strategies for various disasters or disruptions. As a starting point, check out what we pay some of our tax dollars toward. The RDN site – www.rdn.bc.ca/emergency has a lot of linformation. There is also Emergency Social Services (ESS) information in our Gabriola phone directory. (Page 77) The contact information for our ESS group is there. They are happy to provide local info and even arrange neighbourhood meetings.

Being prepared can help make these situations, if not fun, at least less uncomfortable. With the changes going on in our world we are told to expect more disruption. I think the secret is to remember these inconveniences while the power is still on- and make some preparations for the next time.

Happy New Year Everyone!

 

 

BC Shakeout and our Emergency Notification System Test.

Another extremely dry fire season has now passed, with very few actual fire related emergencies on our Island. IMO, much of the thanks goes to our citizens, who generally are not afraid to inform someone of the error of their ways, and / or report potentially hazardous situations, allowing our Duty Officer to be paged to respond in real time.

Today is Shakeout BC, our Province’s day to practice and give some forethought to a major earthquake that may occur at some point in our lives, and to do our best to be prepared for it, should it occur.

At 10:18 this morning, my cell phone buzzed with a text, indicating this was a test of the RDN’s Emergency Notification System, and we should Drop, Cover, and Hold on.

In a real earthquake, or wildfire or any other event that the public needs to be quickly informed of, more detailed information would likely be included in the message.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to sign up to receive these alerts.

If you haven’t already, please go to:

rdnemergency.connectrocket.com

There you will be asked to fill out your personal contact details.

While we are on the subject,  give some thought to your own family’s response to various emergencies.

Make sure your smoke detectors are clean and functioning.

Ensure you and your children know at least 2 ways to escape from various parts of your home and where to safely meet.

Think through at least 2 escape routes from your neighbourhood as well, in case of the need to evacuate.

Fire extinguishers are always a good idea to have on hand.  The Fire Dept sells them at cost-$45 including tax. We will even teach you how to use. Call firehall  No.1 on Church st. to arrange a time to get one. (250-247-9677)

Thanks to everyone for helping us keep the Island safe.

 

 

 

 

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.

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