7pm, Wednesday, September 25th, 2019
Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall
730 Church Street
The GVFD officers and firefighters will be hosting an Open House at the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall (North Hall), from 10am-2pm on Saturday, April 6, 2019.
Come meet our crew, look at the hall and trucks, and take part in some informative and fun demonstrations, including:
Reminder: With the recent time change, it’s a great idea to install new batteries in all your smoke detectors, and make sure they work properly. Working smoke detectors save lives.
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!
The earthquake in Alaska this morning has people asking about our emergency notication system.
Years ago we investigated putting sirens around the island but realized for them to be effective their would need to be a lot of them to cover the island and they would all need backup power in case of a power outage.
Please sign up for this system if you haven’t already.
As well as a number of MVI’s on December 29th, the heavy wet snow caused a large tree to fall across Taylor Bay Rd, by Ivory Way- right at the spot where the wires cross the road. Because the power lines and telecommunications cables were entangled with the tree, road crews were unable to remove it until BC Hydro could attend. Due to power outages from an extremely bad ice storm in the Fraser valley, many of the normally available crews had been dispatched to that area, so nobody was available to help us until early Saturday morning.
Until the new Church- Spruce roads connector is completed, Taylor Bay Rd is the only way for vehicles- and especially emergency vehicles- to attend any calls in those neighbourhoods. Luckily, no calls came in until after the road was opened, but it created a nervous atmosphere for Fire, Police and Ambulance personnel.
We are looking forward to the quicker response times and the secondary access once the new road is in service.
This brings to mind the other area on Gabriola with a sizeable population and a single road access- Whalebone. Residents of that area were similarly inconvenienced recently when BC Hydro needed to close off Barrett road while they were replacing 5 power poles on that hill. Had a situation occurred there as just happened on Taylor Bay road, that area would have been equally cutoff.
We need to create another road into the Whalebone neighbourhood. I believe an emergency road can be created by upgrading an old logging road that runs from Pequod, to, ideally North Rd, but if that’s not possible, then to Wild Cherry Terrace. The necessary land belongs to the Federal Government, and they previously gave permission to build this road. As usual, money is the issue. MOTI has none for us. We need to find a way to get that road built.
The snow squalls on December 29 th created lots of issues as about 2″ of extremely wet and slippery stuff got dumped on various parts of the island. Emergency crews responded to 3 of these MVI’s, culminating in the one on Taylor Bay road were one elderly gentleman piloted his convertible about 50 feet down into Mallet Creek. Luckily it remained on its wheels, and the driver only suffered minor injuries.
After extracting the patient from his vehicle and securing him in the rescue stretcher, firefighters used the low angle rope rescue equipment to pull him to the top of the ravine and deliver him to the waiting BC Ambulance crew.