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General Meeting Minutes – June 5, 2019

GABRIOLA FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
GENERAL MEETING
A General Meeting of the Gabriola Fire Protection District was held June 5,  2019 at the No. 1 Fire Hall with five Trustees in attendance, absent was  Paul Champion (John Hudson – resigned).
The meeting was called to order at 4:45 p.m. by acting Chair Sandra Rudischer.
The Chair asked for  errors or omissions from  the minutes of May 8, 2019 General Meeting, moved by John Moeller moved that the minutes be accepted with correction to correspondence, seconded by Mark Noyon, carried.
CORRESPONDENCE: N/A
TREASURER’S REPORT:
Paula Mallinson noted that $20,000 had been transferred out of the Capital Reserve Fund in Operations chequing due to some unexpectedly high bills, but that it would be transferred back when the Provincial Levy is received.
FIRE CHIEF REPORT: (As per written report)
Short discussion regarding fixing the old Hall torch on roof at the approximate price of $40,000 – $60,000.
∙    Cost more than that to tear it down.
∙    Summer would be the time to get it done
∙    Add to next meeting agenda.
TRAINING OFFICER REPORT:
Will Sprogis gave a brief report;
∙    Training taking place with 4 different groups
∙    6 new auxiliary FF
∙    6 old auxiliary firefighters moving into firefighting
∙    Brought in a mentor program
∙    Dimtri Tzotzos and Jethro Baker put on another F.R. course
∙    Re-purposing an old tank for training.
ASSOCIATION REPORT:
∙    Morale is really high
∙    June 30 is the Annual family Canada Day BBQ, Trustees and life members invited.
NEW BUSINESS:
Special Election:
∙    A Special Election has to be called to replace John Hudson
∙    Needs 14 days notice to the public
∙    Dates discussed, decided on June 26, 2019 @7:00 p.m.
Discussion;
∙    Returning Officer?
Moved by John Moeller to get a Returning Officer to run the election, seconded by Paul Giffin, carried.
∙    Method of nomination?
∙    In the past it is always been from the floor
∙    Can someone be nominated by email?
Moved by John Moeller that email nominations  and nominations from the floor be accepted but the nominees must be at the meeting to accept, seconded by Mark Noyon, carried.
Planning & Mitigation
Sean Lewis brought up Albert Reed’s 1999 Long Range Plan stating that there is a lot of good stuff in it that has withstood the test of time.
Sean noted that this could be a discussion for the Trustees and asked the Fire Chief to advise:
The Chief noted that he has been updating this plan, i.e. water sources, new trucks…, basically just using tags in the report as there is no computer copy to update at this time
Discussed;
∙    Water sources
∙    Structures and folios
∙    Fire Smarting
∙    Road accessibility / secondary accesses
∙    Driveways to properties
∙    Firefighters awareness of dangers
∙    Does the fire department have an Island Wide Plan?  The Fire Department’s mandate is fire protection and prevention, an emergency plan is the RDN
∙    Escape routes?  Pretend there is a fire, where would you go?  Need to think about this before it happens.
∙    Gabriola is not like Kelowna or Fort Mac with a 15% humidity, here the danger is more grass  fires, even in fire season our trees are not going to light  up like there.
∙    Worried about animals, PALS has regular meetings and emergency plans, staging areas.
∙    All due respect to the fire department but Douglas Fire are dying at a high rate, do you have a plan?  Chop the trees down.  We can’t go on private property and demand anything people have their rights.
∙    Island wide plan?  Personal responsibility, can’t do a whole lot to force private individuals.
∙    In a disaster we can bring in mutual aid,
∙    Best thing is to have a huge auxiliary and buy big trucks
∙    What about a citizen’s committee, have them go around the Island and report back?  The fire department has offered inspection of private properties for years.
∙    Speak with ESS – having a neighbourhood emergency plan is all encompassing with mechanisms in place and they have worked very hard to get interest in it.
∙    There is a Wildfire grant.  Yes the department had one done in 2009.
Website:
∙    Could the agenda and minutes of meetings be put on the Fire Department website?  Yes, we will start doing that, but the minutes will be drafts until approve by the Board.
Moved by Paul Giffin that the meeting be adjourned, seconded by John Moeller, carried.
Meeting adjourned at 4:45 p.m.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

The Great Outage of 2016

The alleged crane

The alleged crane

So, as of this writing, it appears to be settled. The tug towing the too tall crane on a barge that took out the power lines over Dodds Narrows did not drag an anchor and take out an undersea cable – and all of our phone and data lines. Those lines were overhead, and went crashing down along with our power lines

Nevertheless, it was a major awakening to everyone here, as every service on the island was affected. With landline phones not able to reach any off island numbers and many local numbers, and our notoriously inadequate local cell service further compromised by the power outage, people found their ability to reach out was non-existent for most part.

The partial solution that was able to be provided by the GVFD was to man the Firehall, 24 hrs a day until all the systems were up again. The firehall still had the radio communications to reach the dispatchers in Nanaimo, who would forward info as required to and from other agencies, such as the BC Ambulance dispatch. This of course, resulted in a situation were, as a last resort, someone would need to physically come to the Firehall to call for help.

We all owe a big thank you to Paul Giffin and Rich Williams, two of our Gabriola Emergency Communications group, who also work in alliance with the Coastal Emergency Communications group. They did the lions share of manning the hall for all these days and nights. The GEC radio room, established in the lower level of the new Firehall has proven to be a great asset for our community!

Now that things are back to normal, I think it would be a great time for the community to overview how people were affected, beyond the obvious, and see what practical solutions could be enacted to help improve the situation for the next time. A good start would be to learn about our Neighbourhood emergency planning and our Emergency Social Services programs. Neighbours helping neighbours. They have many thoughtful, time tested considerations on how to help survive more comfortably during such an episode.

We were lucky this time, as the weather was relatively warm. But that accident could have just as easily happened during a cold and blustery January storm, when helicopters couldn’t fly for a week or more, to repair the damage. We all need to be ready for that one.