GVFD Open House – Saturday, May 13th
Archive for fire prevention
Sometime over the next couple of weeks employees of the RDN and the BC Wildfire service will be maintaining some of the trails in the 707 and Cox parks. At one time these former logging roads were kept open by use from locals. Since becoming parks and being gated, these access roads quickly become overgrown. Emergency crews need to be able to get into various areas of these parks for any fire or medical responses which therefore requires workers with chainsaws and a chipper to remove any overgrowth before any emergency manifests. Workers will be clearly identified by their brightly coloured safety apparel. Some trails may be temporarily closed while any dangerous work is being performed.
My apologies to those who found this site confusing when searching for the current fire ban status. The notice of a fire ban being in effect was further down the thread than it perhaps should have been.
The level indicator to the right, currently in red and reading HIGH is hyperlinked, when you click on it it opens another page with the explanations. The current status indicating a ‘FIRE BAN IS CURRENTLY IN EFFECT’ is now more prominent.
As an FYI, we promptly remove the NO FIRE signs when the ban is rescinded, so, if they are up, the ban is still in effect.
This is the first year we have instituted a season long fire ban, and it appears the desired effect has been achieved. Burn complaints, rekindled fires and the attending costs appear to be down significantly. Most of the people I have talked to about this new policy agree that it makes sense, when compared with the previous method of banning and rescinding open burning based on a bit of rainfall. The cleaner air is also a nice payback in the view of many people as well.
Should you smell smoke, please investigate its source, as the recent structure fire could have been avoided if it had been detected an hour or so before.
While propane and briquet BBQs, hibatchis, and fireplaces are not included in the ban, they must be used with the utmost care and have fire precautions in place.
The fire hazard level and any prohibitions can also be heard by calling 250-247-9677 for the recorded message.
Thank you to all for your conscientiousness in helping to keep Gabriola safe!
CBC has an article you should read today: Urge to live with trees, nature may be leading wildfire to our front doors.
After the devastating fire of 2011 in Slave Lake, Alta., Flannigan recalls seeing the front walk and driveway of one home in the community lined with mulch. That led the fire right to the front door, but the home’s green lawn was untouched. [continue]
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.
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.
New sensor technology as well as battery improvements have evolved a new generation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors that last for their entire 10 year life without having to install new batteries.
This makes the problem of retro fitting existing houses with dectors extremely simple, especially now that installing a detector in every bedroom has been realized as a sensible thing to do, and will be required by the building code.
One company, Kidde, manufactures units for various areas-kitchen, high ceiling, combination carbon monoxide and smoke detection, as well as units with lights built in.
Other than vacuuming them periodically there is no maintenance required for their entire lifespan, and most importantly , they function during a power outage when people are more likely to have a fire start from the use of candles.
With the continuing extreme fire hazard, we have weighed the risk factors and concluded the use of battery powered or corded electric weed eaters, with nylon line, used in early shift (before 1pm and watching the site for an hour following) likely poses less of a risk of a fire than the long grass itself.
Therefore we have removed them from the list of restricted items whose use is prohibited under these regulations.
A charged hose or fire extinguisher must be in close proximity as a precaution.
It’s best not to try to cut the grass so short that you end up firing rocks and dirt around, and therefore increase the risk of an ignition of nearby combustibles.
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!
If there’s a serious fire on Gabriola, will your house survive? The BC Wildfire Service explains how to protect your home from wildfire:
See our page on wildfire for more information.
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.
This is what Carol Hemrich wrote after Sunday’s meeting. With Carol’s permission, we are pleased to share her article with you.
Due to widespread concern related to our extreme fire hazard and surrounding wildfires, a meeting has been called for 7 pm tonight (July 5th, 2015) at the Gabriola Community Hall.
If you have any questions or concerns, please attend.
A seven year old boy from Nanaimo has died after he was overcome by fumes in a fire at his home this past week. A passing RCMP officer spotted the flames and alerted the family. He attempted to reach the boy on the second floor, but was unable to, due to the smoke and heat. Had it not been for the officer noticing the fire when he did, this tragedy would have been even worse.
I understand there was not a working smoke detector at this location. Had there been one the chances are very good that all of the family would have been alerted in ample time to escape.
PLEASE! Check to make sure your smoke detectors are operational, and less than 10 years old. If you can’t afford to buy one, call the Gabriola Fire Department (250-247-9677) and we will give you one.
With today’s cheap smoke detector technology their is no reason for people to die – usually in their sleep from carbon monoxide suffocation – in a fire.
Canada still has an unacceptably high rate of such deaths.
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.
We have received some question regarding power equipment usage during restricted times. Generally speaking these restrictions apply to machines that are likely to cause an issue- chainsaws, lawnmowers, weed-eaters, as well as heavy equipment such as backhoes and excavators.
The BC Forest service issues a list of different types of jobs and their relative risk factors that our department uses as a guideline. Logging, for instance has a high fire risk factor during very dry weather and so it is restricted. Loading those logs onto a truck at a roadside dump is considered a low risk hazard and therefore is allowed. Digging an excavation to build a house in an area already cleared is also low risk, as is running a compactor or generator inside an area like a foundation.
Which brings me back to the original question- skill saws, electric drills, compressors and other such construction tools generally would be a low hazard application, and as long as there isn’t a potential issue created by piled up sawdust or chips -a fuel load- then these should be acceptable to use during restrictions.
If in doubt, please call us, as knowing who is doing what and where is beneficial knowledge to us in the event of a problem or complaint.
Recently a women called the fire dept after she noticed smoke coming from this planter on her deck. Upon closer examination it was evident that there was a lot of heat generated, melting the planter. The planter was full of soil and topped with peat moss. Moist peat moss has been known to spontaneously combust. This is also a danger with damp BBQ briquettes, and of course oily or greasy rags.
(Click image to see a larger version of the photo.)
The rain on Wednesday has prevented an escalation of the fire hazard to Extreme. In anticipation of a further drying trend expected to start today, we are leaving the rating at High Early Shift for now.
NOTE: This post was made on July 24th; our wildfire hazard rating has changed since then. To view the current status, see the sidebar or the current wildfire hazard rating for Gabriola page.
Last night we put up the ‘no fire’ signs all around Gabriola, and switched our fire status to high early shift.