On June 19th 2020 the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department will be lifting the current Open Burning Ban for the island.
Archive for fire hazards
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
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.
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.
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.
GVFD Open House – Saturday, May 13th
As our island gets dryer, our wildfire hazard rating climbs, and further restrictions are enacted. At this writing we are at High Regular shift, but are anticipating a further raising of the hazard rating to High Early shift this week. All of the definitions and restrictions can be found on the wildfire hazard ratings of our website, gabriolafire.ca.
At these next higher levels ALL outdoor burning is banned, but propane and briquet BBQs and Hibatchis, as well as propane fireplaces ( 6″ flame maximum) are still allowed. Great care must be taken and fire fighting precautions must be at hand.
Most forms of powered equipment usage stops at 1 pm and a full hour of observation (watchman) is mandatory following any work.
If you spot a situation that concerns you, call the GVFD Duty Officer at 250-755-9289 in real time to investigate.
If you are not able to connect due to our poor cell service, call 911 and ask the operator to page the Gabriola fire department duty officer for you.
Should you see some idiot throwing cigarette butts from a vehicle, take down the license plate and car description, location etc, and report it to the RCMP ASAP.
While we await Emcon’s mower to arrive to cut the grass on the road sides, be aware that parking your vehicle in such dry grass could result in a serious fire from your hot exhaust. An exhaust system that is damages or even a trailer safety chain dragging on the ground can throw a shower of sparks as well, and numerous serious fires have been started in BC from these forms of carelessness over the years.
Carrying a dry chemical 5 lb. ABC fire extinguisher in your car during this dry season is a very good idea. (We sell good quality fire extinguishers at our cost at the firehall. Call us at 250-247-9677 if you’d like to buy one.)
Your actions could make the difference between a scary situation and a disaster. Always have someone call 911 and report a fire as soon as you see one – before deciding if it is safe to attempt extinguishing it. This gives an earlier heads up to us and gets our fire trucks rolling more quickly.
Gabriola’s safety is in all of our hands, and firefighters really appreciate your assistance.
At the recent community hall meeting, many people asked what they could do to help. Our primary message was to be prepared to look after yourself, and not add to the burden of the emergency services.
Another huge contribution would be to ‘fire smart’ your property- remove the fuels, be they twigs and ladder fuels or oily rags and other sources of combustion.
The following 20 minute video is is used as part of a training program for firefighters who respond to wildland/urban interface (WUI) fires. It gives a reasonable perspective on how a bush or forest fire might spread, the various fuels that will spread them, and what you can do for yourself to enormously increase the chances of your home surviving such an event.
We are now at that level of extreme fire hazard where shutdown is in place. Most powered equipment- gas, diesel and electric- have restrictions under this category. Building construction tools, such as table saws and air compressors that are safely located may be used. There are also certain low-risk industrial activities- such as digging a foundation- that are also permitted. If you have any concerns or questions, please contact the Fire Officer on duty at 250-755-9289.
This past Sunday our department was paged out for an “explosion and fire” at a residence that demonstrated the incredible power of freezing and steam.
The owners were away and the plumbing – including the heat exchanger in the wood stove – had frozen up. Some friends had come by and lit a fire hoping to defrost the place. A while after lighting the woodstove they heard a hissing sound, followed by an incredibly destructive blast that demolished the stove, sending shrapnel throughout the house and yard, blowing out a number of windows and skylights.
One person was badly injured by the flying debris, and a number of small fires were started throughout the house from the stoves burning contents.
The picture above is of the remains of the heat exchanger from the woodstove, once a rectangular shape like the bottom section. The 3/16″ thick stainless steel was no match for the damage from freezing and then from the forces generated by the steam. For a mathematical perspective – a steam plant engineer has stated that 6 gallons of water heated to 350’F has the explosive force of 1 lb. of TNT. After seeing the damage to this home, I can say I have no problem believing those figures.
We recently responded to a page for a structure fire. On arrival we found the house full of acrid plastic smelling smoke. The home owner directed us to the clothes dryer which had smoke rising from behind it. We immediately shut off the electrical breaker, determined that their were no flames present, and pulled the dryer out from the wall. We used our Thermal imaging camera (TIC) to determine that no heat or flames was present in the wall itself.
The problem was caused by a fault in the plug. Possibly the copper conductors inside had been damaged at some point while removing it, possibly by pulling the plug out by the wire.
If any of those copper conducting wires attaching the plug to the cord are broken, the electricity flows through the fewer remaining wires, and the resistance caused by this reduced conductor size generates heat, which can build up and further damage the plug.
Eventually the heat becomes great enough that the plastic starts to melt and / or burn.
If you have a plug or electrical cord that you suspect may be too hot, have it inspected by a qualified person.
A slightly orange light and a distinct smell of smoke is lingering around the island and is expected to persist for a number of days, according to a BCForest service report.
Outflow weather from the interior has brought the smoke of many forest fires into our airshed.
With this situation comes the danger of people becoming complacent with the smell of smoke, and a actual emergency could be masked, and a 911 call delayed for longer than might otherwise be the case.