Archive for fire prevention

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

 

 

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. 

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.

Bush Fire

This morning the GVFD responded to a bush fire call.  We discovered a pile of stacked firewood burning, and a smoldering fire working it’s way up the hill.  It appears that someone had a campfire about 2 days ago, and did not completely extinguish it.  The stacked firewood was piled very close to the camp fire, and the area was not cleared of combustible material.  This fire could have been avoided if the burning regulations had been followed.
As a reminder:
– Only small 1/2m fires are permitted at this time.
– Theses fires must have a 1m perimeter of non-combustible material, and must be a safe distance from any combustible growth or objects.
– Fires must be continuously attended.A charged hose or 20L pail of water and a shovel must be kept available.
– Any costs incurred for extinguishing a fire may be charged to the property owner if the fire resulted from carelessness or a disregard of the burning regulations.
The GVFD burning regulations are available on our website (http://gabriolafire.ca/burning/burning-regulations/), in the Gabriola Directory, and from the firehall.

It’s Time For Another Open House!

GVFD Open House – Saturday, May 13th

It’s time for another open house!  Come join us at the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall, 730 Church Street, from 1-4pm, on May 13th.
Gabriola firefighters will be there to talk about ways to FireSmart your property before the warm, dry summer weather gets here.  We will also have a wood chipper on site, so you can see how simple it is to use.  Chipping is a great alternative to burning all those pesky branches that are cluttering up your yard.  We have lots of FireSmart brochures, and are happy to discuss them with you.
Effective CPR save lives.  Want to learn basic, compression-only CPR?  Give us 30 minutes, and we will teach you, let you practice, and have a quick discussion about the automatic external defibrillators that are in more and more public areas.  Heart & Stroke Foundation Instructors, Jethro and Dimitri will be hosting CPR instruction every 1/2 hour during the Open House.
Do you have fire extinguishers at home or work?  Do you know how to use them safely?  Stop by and learn how to use an extinguisher properly.  Need an extinguisher?  We have them for sale at a great price.
We’ll also have one of our trucks set up with hoses flowing water for the kids (of all ages) to check out and try.
Just want to stop by and meet some of Gabriola’s firefighters and first responders?  You can do that too.  We’ll show you around the trucks, and answer any questions you may have.
We hope to see you there!

Trail Maintenance in the 707 and Cox Parks

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.

Fire ban information clarification

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!

 

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.

Wildfire hazard rating escalates

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.

Hear the beep when you sleep- smoke detectors

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.

 

 

Electric weed-eater policy change

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.

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!

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