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.
The province puts out a really great booklet with things that a homeowner can do to increase the chances of your home surviving a wildfire event. There are some pretty easy steps you can take that will have a large impact on keeping your home unscathed.
Click on the image to the left to have a look at the electronic version.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Every year HIFR is asked to investigate several abandoned 911 calls. We’ve already done two this year. These are the most risky calls that we do and we sometimes flat out refuse to attend. We just never know what is happening. It could be a heart attack or a home invasion… A fire or a domestic dispute with a weapon.
Like many rural fire departments, one of the challenges that we face is finding the location of the people that we are trying to help. On a dark and rainy night a visible address sign where the driveway meets the road can make a big difference. You can imagine the difficulties that we encounter when we start down an unmarked driveway, then have to turn around when we realize that it’s not the correct location. This can cost valuable time when getting there as quickly as possible is of huge importance.
In January we did 14 calls and at least three of them were slightly delayed because of lack of address signage. Fortunately, the delays did not affect the outcome but we have been to calls where a similar delay would have had a big impact.
As far as signage goes, anything is better than nothing, but something visible at night can make a difference. Light coloured numbers on a dark background or reflective signs like those in the photo make our jobs so much easier. If you are land partners or have several houses on your property, then signage identifying each of the buildings helps us from taking the wrong fork in the road.
If you would like to order a reflective number sign please call the fire hall at 250.335.2611 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you. Clearly identifying your house reduces the stress for us in trying to get to the right location and increases the odds for a good outcome by getting us there more quickly.