New Tanker/Tender Truck Almost Complete

The brand new HIFR truck #66 is soon on its way. The black back is a 2000 gallon plastic water tank.

Rob Zielinski and I had a virtual tour of the new Hornby Island Fire Rescue tender. It is almost complete and is on track to be delivered in a week or two. We did a video conference with the folks at Fort Garry Fire Trucks at their factory in Winnipeg where they wandered around the truck with an iPhone showing us some of the features.

They will be sending a driver/trainer to drive the rig to Hornby Island and spend a day training us on its components. We’ll start using it in our training sessions before the end of September in the hopes of challenging the Superior Tanker Shuttle Accreditation test in the spring.

Fire Hazard now at Extreme

The danger class went to EXTREME this afternoon.

HIFR is asking people to please refrain from using chainsaws and other small engines that have potential for generating sparks.

Professional fallers and other forestry professionals are exempt from this as they are covered under the forestry act. They are required, however,  to do a thorough assessment of the conditions, establish a fire suppression system, and may be responsible for any damages caused by a fire that they start.

911 Tower on Mount Geoffrey

The North Island 911 tower at the top of Mount Geoffrey

In Tues afternoon, Quana and I accompanied representatives from North Island 911 and North Island Communications to the top of Mount Geoffrey to inspect the 911 tower. With this tower serving as the radio repeater for the entire Comox Valley South area it needs an inspection every few years.

A solar panel charges a battery bank which runs the radio transceiver. It’s a simple installation which has run flawlessly since it’s installation almost 20 years ago. A battery swap and new antenna is being planned for next spring.

Campfires Closed Thursday at noon

Tonight is your last night to enjoy a campfire as the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource have closed all open burning as of noon on Thursday the 6th of July.  Starting on Thursday evening only propane campfires will be allowed.

Call the fire hall at 250.335.2611 or the fire patrol at 250.703.1792 if  you have any questions or concerns.

For the entire press release click the image

Wildland fire risk increasing

Forestry crews are battling two fires fairly close to home. There is a big one at Harrison Lake (pictured to the right)and a smaller one at the bottom of Blackcomb Mountain. Both were human started.

The grass up on Mount Geoffrey is still green but things are starting to get a crispy. Safe and small campfires are still allowed but please use caution. If there is an onshore wind then consider a campfire at one of the beaches on the other side of the island. Be safe!

New Fire Rings in Place

Albini, Scott, Sasha, and Quana installed four new fire rings on the non-park section of Tribune Bay beach today. The rings have been proven to be an excellent way to keep the beach fires in the same locations. They also limit the size of the campfires and reduce the chance of fires spreading into the logs at the head of the beach.

The Fire Patrol crew is installing the the new rings at Tribune Bay Beach.

The Fire Patrol crew is out every night during the summer investigating fire concerns and making sure that everyone is enjoying a safe camp fire. If someone appears vulnerable due to intoxication at a beach gathering our Fire Patrol often provides a helping hand. They carry Naloxone kits and have the training to administer them.

It’s not an easy job but the relationship building and the public education that Albini, Scott, and Quana bring make it look effortless.

Backyard Burning Season Coming to an End

We use the Forest Fire Danger forecasting station at Bowser for our region as it’s the closest one to us. If anything, Bowser is a bit more damp that Hornby and the forecasts are calling for the danger class to move to “high” on Monday. If that happens, we will be closing the season for backyard burns and any open permits will be cancelled, including any category 3 permits.

Safe campfires will still be allowed. Click the poster to learn what makes a safe campfire.

Night Time Air Ambulance Operations

The HIFR duty officer vehicle was the first official vehicle to use our new access road to the landing zone.

In early April HIFR got word that Air Ambulance were ceasing night operations to Hornby Island due to safety concerns. We immediately realized the significant negative effect that would have on the well being of our community and got to work. When representatives of Helijet and BC Ambulance flew in to talk a week later, we not only had a solid plan, but we had already mitigated some of their concerns.

Three significant changes were made in the way that we’ve conducted night time helicopter operations:

  • We changed the landing zone location, which required fixing up an old access road.

    Turboflare SOS are the preferred landing lights. These are the loaners. We will be purchasing our own for about $2600.
  • We purchased 22 portable landing lights and are investigating funding to offset the significant purchase price.
  • We reprogrammed a number of our radios to better communicate with the incoming helicopter.

On our May 18 fire practice we did a trial run where we set up our new landing zone system.

We use a 35′ rope to draw a circle defining where our landing lights will be placed.

Helijet was able to free up a helicopter just before midnight and flew up to check out our improvements. There are still a few tweaks to make the system better, but we’ve just received notice that night operations are back!

A good number of people helped make this happen:

  • Dan Hamilton had just done a full day of tree work when I called him to help remove a few trees from our access road. He didn’t hesitate to help and I met him 20 minutes later to start the work. Dan refused payment for that work.
  • Stani, our Depot Manager, let us dump several truck loads of slash from the clearing free of charge.
  • BC Ambulance and Helijet have been extremely responsive in helping us restore this important service. They gave us detailed guidelines, lent us landing zone lights, and have flown up here twice to help plan and test.
  • Chris Lefevre, who owns the land and built the airstrip, has been so incredibly generous with allowing us to not only use the airstrip, but has given us free reign to make changes to improve safety and access.
  • The firefighters of HIFR who gave up a weekend to clear the access road and haul away slash… and who also waited until past midnight on our practice night to get the pilot feedback… and who also will come out any day or night, no matter the time or weather, to set up the landing zone and shuttle medical crew and patient between the landing zone and the clinic.