Archive for Author FireWeb

About the Author: FireWeb
FireWeb is a Gabriola firefighter and first responder.

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.

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.

Hallowe’en Fireworks, 2016

This year our annual fireworks show will be on Sunday, October 30th, at 7pm. That’s the night before Hallowe’en – we hope this will be super convenient for little goblins and their parents.

Children of all ages, please join us at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park (Twin Beaches) on Sunday, October 30th, 2016. The show starts at 7 pm.

We will have the bonfire blazing for you, and our fireworks will light up the sky. Come in costume, if you like!

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

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

Want to be a Gabriola firefighter?

We have some openings for a few more firefighters. Would you like to join us?

The Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department is a friendly and welcoming organization. We provide all necessary training to the same NFPA standards as big city departments, and we’re ready to help new applicants become competent members of our team.

If you join us you will learn to fight fires, deal with motor vehicle incidents (jaws of life, etc), help during situations that require rope rescue, and a lot more. You’ll learn to operate fire trucks, and will upgrade your driving license to class 3 with air brakes endorsement. Once you have mastered all of these skills, you have the option to train as a first responder.

We hope you’ll consider applying if:

  • You live on Gabriola Island, you’ve been here a while (at least a year) and you plan to stay on the island.
  • You’re in good health, and reasonably fit.
  • You have a class 5 (or higher) driving license
  • You can come to training sessions from 7 to about 10 on Tuesday nights. (Sometimes there are additional sessions as well, like weekend-long courses.)
  • You’re eager to learn new skills.
  • You are willing to study written material and take exams.
  • You’re trustworthy, honest, and kind.
  • You’re ready for a long-term commitment- we hope our members stay for many years.
  • You can respond (most of the time) to emergencies when the pager goes off.

If you’re interested, please call our office (250-247-9677) and arrange to fill out an application form. We’ll check your driving record, and make sure that the police have no record of you doing bad stuff. We’ll ask you for several references.

If you look like a good match for us, we’ll ask you to come and meet our officers for an interview.

We’re planning to start a class for new firefighters in January, so you’d start with that, on Tuesday nights.

All training costs are covered, and our department pays an hourly stipend for most training sessions and for callouts once you have achieved a certain training level and are issued a pager.

For more details, see these pages on our website:

You’ve always wanted to be a firefighter? This is your chance!

August 1st structure fire

This morning we were paged to a structure fire at 8:26 am. Gabriola firefighters responded quickly, and almost all of our members were on scene in a matter of minutes.

The fire was on Samson and Dunshire. It began in a plastic garbage can, which contained items that were left-over from a house-painting project. Those items began to smoulder, then finally burst into flame. (This sort of spontaneous combustion is common when oil-and other some other chemical soaked rags are involved.) The garbage can was against a shed, which then caught fire, and quickly spread the flames to nearby trees.

The fire then spread to the neighbouring house, which was saved, but sustained significant damage from flames climbing the wall and entering the attic space.

All of this was determined by watching the security cam footage from the scene.

This is a good time to remind community members about these key points:

  1. Oil-soaked rags, or rags left over from painting projects should not go into a garbage can. They should be stored in a metal container, away from anything flamable, until they can be safely disposed of. Piles of chipped trees also have been known to spontaneously combust, and should be spread out 6″ deep, and or the piles monitored.
  2. If you smell smoke in your neighbourhood, go and investigate. Try to find the source of the smoke. If you can’t find the fire but you smell smoke (in summer when fires are banned on the island) call 911 so that we can come and help find the fire.
  3. This was a classic example of a tree spreading fire to another structure, and is the reason we ask people to ‘Fire Smart’ their properties to create defensible spaces.

It’s better to call us than to wonder just where that smoke smell is coming from. Today some people reported smelling smoke way before the smouldering items burst into flame. If they had traced the source of the smoke, or called us, it is likely this fire could have been extinguished before it spread beyond the garbage can.

Here are a couple of photos from this fire. Click on either one if you’d like to see a larger version.

Your home can survive a wildfire

The wildfire situation in northern Alberta right now is horrifying, and it reminds us of how awful a wildland fire can be. What can we do to protect ourselves from wildfire on Gabriola?

One important place to start is at home. The (US) National Fire Protection Agency offers essential information in this video.

Overdose? We’ve got Naloxone!

If you’d been at the firehall on Tuesday night, you would have seen most of our first responders, and a lot of syringes.

We were learning to administer injections of the drug called Naloxone. After completing our training and passing our exams, we are now licensed by BC Emergency Health Services to administer Naloxone when it is needed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

So if your neighbour has taken too much of an opioid painkiller, or if somebody down the block took heroin or fentanyl and cannot be roused, Naloxone can be part of what saves that person’s life.

Here’s a reminder from BC Emergency Health Services: Don’t hesitate to call 911 for a suspected opioid overdose.

Boat fire at Page’s Marina

boat-burned-pagesYesterday we responded to a boat fire at Page’s Marina.

Luckily no one at the scene opened the boat up. If that had been done fresh air would have fed the fire, allowing it to grow in size before fire crews were prepared to extinguish it. The fire was determined to be of an electrical origin, and smoke was venting from various locations. Once a charged hoseline was in place we ventilated the interior, and an attack crew entered to locate and extinguish the fire.

boat-fire-pages-marina-syreeta-kyle

This photo shows firefighter Syreeta Caron (left), preparing to go down to the dock as part of the fire attack team. She has donned SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) and a lifejacket. Firefighter Kyle Clifford is doing the “buddy check” – checking Syreeta to make sure she has no exposed skin.

November 16th structure fire

gabriola-nov2015-fire1Yesterday morning Gabriola firefighters were woken at 5:36 am by a page that said structure fire. We responded and found a fully involved building – the fire was so dangerous that firefighters could not enter. We did what we could, but were not able to save the house. Once the fire was out, we were sad to find that a person had perished in the fire.

The photos here show what we saw soon after we arrived on scene.

We know you will share our sorrow at the loss of life in this fire. Perhaps this would be a good time to take a look at your own home to make sure that you are as safe as can be, and that you’ve done what you can to make sure that a house fire will not be in your future.



Know CPR? Please volunteer to help!

When somebody near you needs cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), can you help? If so, please volunteer to be a GoodSAM responder.

GoodSAMApp is a network of Smartphone Activated Medics. Doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, and all CPR-certified first aiders are invited to become responders within this system. To volunteer, start by downloading the GoodSAM Responder app for your smartphone. Select the link you need:

Then you head over to goodsamapp.org and click the “I am a” link on the navigation bar. Select the category that desribes your skill level, like First Aider. You’ll be asked to upload a photo of your CPR or medical credentials for verification. Choose GoodSAM as your verifying organization. They’ll check your credentials, then approve your application.

Once GoodSAM approves you as a responder, the GoodSAM Responder app will keep tabs on your location through your phone’s geo-location features. If somebody near you goes into cardiac arrest or has some other life-threatening emergency, you can be dispatched by GoodSAM to help. Once activated, the system will send the three nearest GoodSAM responders to the scene, so that they can perform essential life-saving tasks before offical responders arrive. For the patient, this can mean the difference between a good outcome and a bad one.

On Gabriola we have fire department first responders, and BC Ambulance paramedics. They are sent to medical emergencies. But it takes us time to get to the patient, and what if you’re just around the corner or down the street? If you’re nearby and you know what to do, it makes sense to send you first. And this is what the GoodSAM program can do.

So please, install the app and sign up if you can help. If you’re qualified and need assistance getting the app onto your cell phone, let us know and we’ll help you get sorted out.

For lots more information about the GoodSAMapp, see goodsamapp.org. The six minute video there gives a good overview of the program. We have a GoodSAMapp page on our website, too.

You’ll be hearing more about the GoodSAMapp in the next while. Please help us spread the word about this life-saving network. We want to have dozens of certified responders on Gabriola, and we need your help to achieve that.

Gabriola fireworks photos, 2015

Last night ghosts, goblins, witches, princesses, monsters, zombies, and other assorted creatures of the night joined us at Twin Beaches for the Gabriola firefighters’ annual fireworks show. Here are a few photos of the event. (Click on any photo for a larger version.)

(If you’d like to share these photos with your friends, please direct them here to our blog at http://gabriolafire.ca . Please do not re-publish these photos elsewhere. Thanks.)

Within the next few days we’ll be counting the change people put into our fund-raising boots. We’re hoping there will be enough money to buy fireworks again next year!

GVFD open house this Saturday

We’re having an open house! It’s on Saturday, October 10th, 2015, from 11 am until about 2pm. Please come join us at Gabriola’s North Fire Hall at 730 Church Street.

Gabriola firefighters will be on hand to show you our fire trucks and equipment. We’ll have one of our trucks running so that kids can hold a fire hose, open the nozzle, and flow water from it – just as we do when something’s on fire. And maybe you’ve always wanted to sit in the driver’s seat of a fire truck? Here’s your chance!

There will be a fire extinguisher course – come learn the proper way to use your extinguisher. Don’t have a fire extinguisher? Buy one from us at a great price.

We’ll tell you about our new address sign program, and you’ll be able to order a highly-reflective address sign for your house. If you’re in trouble you want us to find you quickly, and this will help.

There’ll be hot dogs, too. :-) See you there?

Gabriola hallowe’en fireworks, 2015

This year hallowe’en is on a Saturday, so that’s when we’re having our annual fireworks show at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park (Twin Beaches):

Saturday, October 31st, 2015, at 7:30pm.

We’ll have a massive bonfire, and fantastic fireworks. Come in costume, if you like!

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

You can support 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 on Gabriola. Please contribute so that we afford to buy fireworks and other supplies.

Wildfire quiz

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has a wildfire quiz for you. In just 11 questions, they’ll tell you if you’re a permanent permafrost dweller or a fire-dragon slayer. Once you’re done you can view the answers to make sure you really know all the stuff.

We hope you are all fire-dragon slayers!

RCMP seek info about July 9th fire

We responded to a bush fire on July 9th. Here is the RCMP press release about that incident:

On July 9, 2015 at 2pm Gabriola Island RCMP responded to a request for assistance from the Gabriola Fire Department in relation to a brush fire located in the 700 block of Church Street which they were currently battling. Upon police attendance a burned area of brush, grass and trees was located beside a dirt trail leading into the forest off of Church St. Due to the location and nature of the fire it was deemed suspicious by Fire Chief Jackson and police. A witness observed a Caucasian male riding a dark coloured bike, no shirt, short brown hair with a backpack enter the trail area a few minutes prior to the smoke being observed. Police would like to speak with this person of interest to determine what if anything they know about the fire that started there. Gabriola Island RCMP and Gabriola Fire Department would like to remind everyone to be extra vigilant with open flames in the current dry conditions and to actively report any suspicious activity or fires immediately to the proper agency. Anyone with information is asked to call Gabriola Island RCMP or if they wish to remain anonymous they can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Bush fire, July 9th 2015

gabriola-bush-fire-church-july2015Just before two this afternoon, we responded to a bush fire. It was in the woods off Church Street, at the side of the trail that runs from Church Street to Tin Can Alley. Our firefighters were on scene quickly; we contained and extinguished this fire before it spread.

The cause was undetermined, and the RCMP are looking for a person of interest who was seen in the area minutes before.

Click on the photo if you’d like to see a larger version of it. Photo credit: Nigel Denholm.

Wildfire: a community hall conversation on Gabriola

This is what Carol Hemrich wrote after Sunday’s meeting. With Carol’s permission, we are pleased to share her article with you.

On Sunday July 5th 2015, Gabriolans gathered at the local community hall to express concern, ask questions, and share information about preparedness and action in this summer of extreme fire risk. The fact that nearly 400 people attended a meeting that had been arranged that very day is indicitive of the level of concern felt when we awoke to an eerie, out-of-this-world, glowing orange pall to the sky. People came wanting answers and a plan of action. They got a dose of reality.

We live in a community, as with all communities everywhere, with a finite set of human and equipment resources. We are experiencing a summer of severe drought that is occurring across the entire province and beyond. Through lower than expected levels of rain we are already at a Level Four drought. The result has been the province erupting into 60+ wildfires this weekend alone. We have seen the consequences of extreme weather elsewhere in the world. Now it is our turn.

The message of the evening, delivered by Fire Chief Rick Jackson, RCMP Constable Jan Hendriks and ESS coordinator, Shirley Nicolson, was that we are individually responsible for our own plan. The firefighters will be fighting any fires and the three RCMP officers will be dealing with issues of public safety and provincial emergency services will be assisting with minimum levels of service for people who are evacuated from their homes (for a maximum of 72 hours). The rest is up to us.

Experience elsewhere has shown that in times of crisis people pull together. That is what is needed here now, in advance of any severe situation. Our best defence is at a neighbourhood level, neighbour assisting neighbour. Citizen action is the order of the day.

How can we help? What can we do?

Today: ensure that you have a reflective house number, viewable from the road at night, so that first responders can quickly respond to any calls.

Constantly be alert for any indication of fire with heightened vigilance now that we are experiencing smoke from wildfires elsewhere in the province.

Carry a fully-charged fire extinguisher in your vehicle so that you are prepared to deal with any newly emergent fire situation you may be the first to encounter.

Carry a charged cell phone, if you have one, so that 911 call can be made as soon as necessary.

See broken glass lying at the side of the road or on a trail? Pick it up! Prevent a fire.

Meet with your immediate neighbours. Do you know their names? Their addressess? Do you have their contact information (e-mail and phone number)? Have you discussed the human and material resources available to you in the immediate vicinity? Who has access to a large water supply? Who has medical training? Who has skills and tools that would be useful in an emergency? Who is vulerable? Elderly? Alone? Compromised mobility? Breathing difficulties that would be affected by levels of smoke in the air? People with infants and children? Who has pets and livestock? Refresh this information now. Have that conversation now.

Carry the Fire Duty Officer pager number with you at all times (250-755-9289). This is the number to call for concerns of unsafe behaviour, non emergency situations that need to be investigated, such as the recent use of fireworks on the island.

Be diligent if you see someone driving with four-way flashers or flashing headlights. This is a firefighter, paramedic, or doctor attending a call. Give them the right-of-way!

Become involved if you see someone behaving in a potentially dangerous manner… challenge anyone who tosses out a cigarette butt… smoking should be done indoors only during this time of drought. Be aware of the total fire ban and the restrictions on usage of power tools and inform others if necessary.

Follow local FM radio for updates on emerging situations: The Wolf 106.9FM and The Wave 102.3 FM.

Pack and carry a Grab-and-Go bag in your vehicle or have it at your door. Assume that when you leave your house during this extreme drought, you might not be able to get back. Have your ID, your family contact information, medications/prescriptions, extra eyeglasses, water, a change of clothers, items for personal hygiene, have cash on hand (ATMs will be down in a power outage), a crank/solar powered radio, photos of family members and pets, important documents, insurance papers.

Keep your gas tank no less than half full so that you don’t run out.

If evacuation becomes necessary, police or fire vehicles will drive through a neighbourhood with sirens and loudspeaker alerts.

You are responsible for the people living on either side of you. Yes, you. Are they safe? Can they get out?

Take responsiblity. Take action. This is what will determine the outcome of this time of extreme risk for our community. If something needs to be done, take control. Some individuals left the meeting determined to get a sign put up at the Nanaimo side of our ferry terminal alerting visitors and new residents to the reality of our extreme fire risk. If something needs to be done to ensure our safety and the best outcome for our island, do it. That is how this meeting happend. Do not point fingers at others in the community. Take the action yourself; collaborate with your friends and neighbours.

Shift that consciousness!

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