Archive for preparedness

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.

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!

PLEASE!

PLEASE!! Please ensure your smoke alarms are less than 10 years old and are functioning properly. If you are not sure or are unable to check, we will check them for you. Just call us. Few things can wreak havock on a small community like this situation, so please help to ensure it never happens here.

From CTV: Space heaters caused Vacouver fire that killed toddler.

Space heaters caused a fire that killed a sleeping toddler and injured her twin sister, older brother and mother, fire officials said Friday.

The home also did not have working smoke alarms, said Fire Chief John McKearney. [continue]

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.

Gabriola’s role in Exercise Coastal Response

The exercise called Coastal Response has now concluded. This was the largest simulated emergency exercise ever held in the Province. The scenario was a magnitude 9 earthquake off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Multiple agencies participated in the event some of which were Provincial Government agencies, the Canadian Forces, the Salvation Army, other Federal Government agencies and amateur radio. In addition to British Columbia the US states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho also participated in the US drill called Cascadia Rising.

Due to the fact that Port Alberni “went dark” for 24 hours after the event communications needed to be established. “ Going Dark” means all the usual forms of communications, cell phones, telephone lines, satellite phones suffer degradation causing the loss of communications. To assist with communications amateur radio stations were set up at the Emergency Operations Centre, the “Mass Casualty Centre,” the Reception Centres, the “temporary residence” and the food centre. All of these stations were in Port Alberni. In addition amateur radio stations outside the affected area were established. Locally the Nanaimo Emergency Operations Centre and the Gabriola Fire Hall emergency communications centre were activated.

The Nanaimo and Gabriola stations established contact with the Provincial Regional Emergency Communications Centres of Emergency Management British Columbia in Victoria and Kamloops.

The Nanaimo station was stood down around noon on day one after it was determined there was “no local damage from the initial event or aftershocks” The Gabriola station remained active all day on day one. Activity resumed on day two until the evening of day two when communications in Port Alberni were “reestablished” The Gabrola station became a central hub for digital communications between Port Alberni and the Operations Centre in Victoria. and on the evening of day two coordinated two different communications check ins involving amateur radio stations from around the Province.

A total of four radio operators were active in the Gabriola Station during this event.

The Gabriola station continues to look for volunteers to assist with the operations of the station. They are also in need of funds to purchase equipment in order that assistance can be provided to Gabriola Island and others.

If you are interested in become part of this group please send an email to va7mpg@gmail.com

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.

No address sign? $1000 fine.

Effective immediately, the Regional District of Nanaimo will be levying a fine of $1000 against the title of any property that doesn’t have an adequate address sign displayed next to the property’s primary access point. ‘Adequate’ means visible day or night by a vehicle approaching from either direction.

Emergency responders have long spoken of the frustration of trying to find the location of situations they have been paged to attend to, often dangerously delaying help to those in need. Repeated requests in the media appear to have fallen on deaf ears, so this drastic measure has been invoked to ensure compliance.

We would like to thank RDN Area B director Howard Houle for his diligence in this matter and for ensuring that enforcement would begin by today.

Fire extinguishers

Fire extinguishers come in all kinds of sizes, and contain many different extinguishing agents.

Pressurized water, some with chemical additives, pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2), pressurized Halon gases are some special purpose examples, but the most commonly found extinguishers are pressurized dry chemical, which contain a variety of powders, some that are similar to baking soda.

Dry Chem, as they are known, extinguishers typically are rated for use on 3 of the 4 types of fires commonly found in homes – A,B, and C .

‘A’ fires are paper, wood, ‘B’ are oil and grease, and ‘C’ are energized electrical fires. ‘D’ fires, which are burning metals, like aluminum or magnesium, are generally not found outside of industry , or a well involved vehicle fire.

(A quick word on grease fires- never try to move a burning pan of hot oil, sliding a dry lid over the pan usually will extinguish it without further drama. Be sure to turn off the element as well.)

All extinguishers are very user friendly, and with a little knowledge, very effective. The ‘PASS’ word is all you will need to remember should you be faced with a fire and have made the personal decision to safely try to extinguish it.

-Pull the safety pin

-Aim at the base of the fire ( not the top of the Flames)

-Squeeze the handle gently to start the discharge of suppressant

-Sweep gently side to side over the seat of the fire.

Most fires in the start up phase (incipient) require a relatively small amount of suppressant to be extinguished, so use one second blasts and monitor the results, rather than dumping the entire contents all at once. The extinguisher does not create a lot of back pressure, so do not fear being knocked over when discharging.

Fire extinguishers have to be examined to ensure they are still functional, and haven’t been tampered with. The gauge should read full and the pin retaining plastic tie should be intact.

They should be mounted in an easy to reach location that is near an exit, so you aren’t seaching in a cabinet while the fire gets bigger and blocks your escape.

All extinguishers need immediate attention once they have been used, do not hang it up again as it will not work the next time.

After 6 years they need to be professionally examined, and at 12 years they need it again as well as having a pressure test.

This only applies to quality fire extinguishers with metal discharge valves. The ones with plastic valves are throw away items after 6 years.

The GVFD sells top quality fire extinguishers at Firehall 1, so give us a call- 250-247-9677. If you would like a personal lesson, we can do that too.

Cell phones for emergencies while out walking

We recently responded to a call to extricate an injured person from the 707 park. It was just after dark when a neighbour heard faint calls for help from well inside that location. Had those calls not been heard – at best- it would had resulted in a much longer wait until they were discovered.

I strongly encourage carrying a cell phone while out in our less travelled areas. Aside from being injured while alone, having to leave an injured friend or pet to get help would be equally traumatic for all involved. Ironically, the 707 park is one part of Gabriola that does get an adequate cell signal.

Open house! And fire safety week

October 5th to 12th is Fire Safety week. Please take the time to ensure all of your fire safety devices and fire escape plan are functional.

On Saturday October 11th we will be hosting an open house at Hall 1. It starts at noon, and goes until 3pm. We’ll have a fire hose for kids of all ages to try, some other fire fighting equipment demonstrations, and hot dogs and beverages by donations- proceeds toward our annual firework show. Application forms will also be available, so feel free to enquire if you have been contemplating becoming a fire fighter.

For your family’s safety:

Please ensure your smoke detectors are functional and are less than 10 years old. The BC building code requires one on each level of your home. The latest code requires one in each bedroom as well. Battery powered smoke detectors are acceptable, and are in some ways are preferable, as the 110V wired in models don’t work during a power outage- when we are most likely to be using candles! A battery powered detector located by the 110V- or a modern 110V one with a built in battery backup one is a good idea as well.

Special smoke detectors are available for the hearing impaired, as well as for areas that often give a false alarm, such as kitchens. Please call us if you would like more info on these. (250-247-9677 – office and message)

Fire extinguishers need to be examined on a regular basis to ensure they are operational- essentially that the pin retainer is intact, and the gauge is reading full. They need to be professionally serviced every 6 years. This service is reasonably cheap- much less than the price purchasing a new extinguisher. If in doubt, give us a call for info about where to take it.

It is a sensible idea to have an extinguisher on each level of your home. Mount them by the exit, as you don’t want to be searching for it in time of need. We sell top quality 5-pound ABC fire extinguishers at Hall 1 for wholesale prices.

What if we can’t find you?

photo of Gabriola driveway

Can you see an address sign here? Neither can we.

What if somebody has a heart attack here, or a serious injury, and needs help in a hurry? What if that somebody calls 911, and what if a few minutes could make the difference between life and death?

And then what if, after rushing to the street, first responders can’t figure out which driveway belongs to the caller – because none of the driveways on this street have address signs?

It’s frustrating for everybody, especially when the caller’s need is urgent.

If your place is missing an address sign, first responders and firefighters will be delayed when we try to find you. Wouldn’t you rather have us find you quickly if you call for our help?

New emergency access to the 707

photo of emergency access gateIf you drive along South Road, you might notice a road cutting into the forest towards the 707 Acre Park, just near the intersection of Crestwood and South Road. It crosses private property, then connects with the road system in the 707.

The RDN recently put a gate across that road. Our hope is that nobody will park in front of the gate and block access! If there’s a fire in the 707, this will be an important access point for us.