Bill Sprogis completed 20 years with our fire dept this past July. He has participated in many an adventure over those years and no doubt will be attending many more. Thanks for being here, Bill!
Bill Sprogis completed 20 years with our fire dept this past July. He has participated in many an adventure over those years and no doubt will be attending many more. Thanks for being here, Bill!
If you saw fire trucks heading to the south of the island on July 4th, it’s because we were on our way to a vehicle fire.
Here are a few photos of the scene, and the now burned-out van. Sorry we don’t have any dramatic shots of the huge flames, or of firefighters extinguishing the blaze. We were too busy to take photos at that point!
Click on any image to see a larger version.
On July 1st at 9:49 pm, Gabriola firefighters were paged to a structure fire. We spent about four hours on scene fighting this fire, and making sure that there was no danger of re-ignition once we had the fire knocked down.
Here are some photos from the fire. Click any image to see a larger version of it.
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.
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.
GVFD Open House – Saturday, May 13th
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.
I was in Ottawa over the holidays and made the point of stopping in to see the Canadian Fallen Firefighter’s memorial. In 2006 we lost one our Gabriola firefighters, Tom Upton, during a training exercise in Comox when he suffered a fatal cardiac arrest. The Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation was formed to honour and remember our fallen firefighters and support their families. The foundation collected bronze hose fittings from fire departments across Canada to be melted down and used to create the statue at the memorial. The Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department donated to this.
It was a sobering in to see all of the names on this memorial of other firefighters who have given their lives to firefighting. Another thought I had was each of these people left behind family members. Tom left behind a son and wife. These firefighters sacrifice work and family to dedicate themselves to firefighting.
(Click on any image to see a larger version of it.)
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.
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]
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.
This year our annual fireworks show will be on Sunday, October 30th, at 7pm. That’s the night before Hallowe’en – we hope this will be super convenient for little goblins and their parents.
Children of all ages, please join us at Gabriola Sands Provincial Park (Twin Beaches) on Sunday, October 30th, 2016. The show starts at 7 pm.
We will have the bonfire blazing for you, and our fireworks will light up the sky. Come in costume, if you like!
Firefighters will be serving hot dogs and hot chocolate. There will be candy for trick-or-treaters.
Please support this event by putting money in our Hallowe’en fireworks boots. You’ll see them at some Gabriola businesses, and at the event. You might find firefighters asking for donations in the ferry line-up, too, or elsewhere in on Gabriola. Please contribute so that we afford to buy fireworks and other supplies.
We have some openings for a few more firefighters. Would you like to join us?
The Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department is a friendly and welcoming organization. We provide all necessary training to the same NFPA standards as big city departments, and we’re ready to help new applicants become competent members of our team.
If you join us you will learn to fight fires, deal with motor vehicle incidents (jaws of life, etc), help during situations that require rope rescue, and a lot more. You’ll learn to operate fire trucks, and will upgrade your driving license to class 3 with air brakes endorsement. Once you have mastered all of these skills, you have the option to train as a first responder.
We hope you’ll consider applying if:
If you’re interested, please call our office (250-247-9677) and arrange to fill out an application form. We’ll check your driving record, and make sure that the police have no record of you doing bad stuff. We’ll ask you for several references.
If you look like a good match for us, we’ll ask you to come and meet our officers for an interview.
We’re planning to start a class for new firefighters in January, so you’d start with that, on Tuesday nights.
All training costs are covered, and our department pays an hourly stipend for most training sessions and for callouts once you have achieved a certain training level and are issued a pager.
For more details, see these pages on our website:
You’ve always wanted to be a firefighter? This is your chance!
At 06:13 this morning a concerned citizen smelled smoke in the air and called 911 to report it. The duty officer responded to investigate, and was surprised to see a home with flames burning on the front deck. The duty officer yelled to wake up the family sleeping inside while attacking the fire with an extinguisher. The cause of the fire appears to have been a cigarette that was placed in a paint bucket filled with sand. Apparently the container wasn’t made of metal like all paint cans used to be, but made of plastic- which was a surprise to the home owner- as all that remained of it was the metal ring from around the top.
Thanks to the vigilance of a neighbour, the damage to the home was contained to a small area of the deck, and undoubtedly prevented a much more serious situation from evolving.
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!
This morning we were paged to a structure fire at 8:26 am. Gabriola firefighters responded quickly, and almost all of our members were on scene in a matter of minutes.
The fire was on Samson and Dunshire. It began in a plastic garbage can, which contained items that were left-over from a house-painting project. Those items began to smoulder, then finally burst into flame. (This sort of spontaneous combustion is common when oil-and other some other chemical soaked rags are involved.) The garbage can was against a shed, which then caught fire, and quickly spread the flames to nearby trees.
The fire then spread to the neighbouring house, which was saved, but sustained significant damage from flames climbing the wall and entering the attic space.
All of this was determined by watching the security cam footage from the scene.
This is a good time to remind community members about these key points:
It’s better to call us than to wonder just where that smoke smell is coming from. Today some people reported smelling smoke way before the smouldering items burst into flame. If they had traced the source of the smoke, or called us, it is likely this fire could have been extinguished before it spread beyond the garbage can.
Here are a couple of photos from this fire. Click on either one if you’d like to see a larger version.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.