Cadet Camp 2011 Wraps Up

This year’s Cadet Camp was a great success with sunny, warm weather and fun, interested participants.

On Wednesday morning the cadets cut apart a car with our hydraulic tools, learned how to escape a burning building, navigated a maze filled with theatrical smoke, and experimented with fire behaviour. After a great lunch of homemade pasta with cheese sauce and salad we took the trucks to the school parking lot. There they learned how to use a hose line and sprayed a lot of water and foam.

Thursday morning was spent learning first aid skills by patching each other up according to a “wheel of fortune of injuries”, and learning the ins and outs of the 911 system. We were able to do an actual 911 call to fire dispatch to watch the system work from calling 911 to when our pagers go off. Lunch was chili with home baked bread followed by ice cream sundaes. The afternoon was spent extinguishing both oil fires and wood fires using a variety of extinguishers.

To cap it all off, the cadets returned to the firehall with their parents later in the evening for a firefighter challenge. It was a great opportunity to show off their newly learned skills. They went through a course involving finding their way out of a smoky maze, rescuing a baby along the way. They then dragged a charged hoseline 50′ and had to knock over a traffic cone with the hosestream. They completed the circuit by dragging a dummy 50′ back to the starting point.

Once everyone had completed the course we all retired upstairs for desserts, certificates, and a few special awards. Big thanks to all the kids who participated. You make it all worth it.

Extra thanks to all the firefighters who took time off of work, or who simply gave p a day or two of their lives to make this successful. Extra special thanks to Rachelle, Theresa, and Jules who aren’t even on the department, but who worked tirelessly to make such fabulous food for all of us.

See you all next year!

New Firehall Update

The existing firehall is in danger of collapsing in the event of an earthquake. If disaster were to hit this area, it would be very important that we would be able to access the emergency vehicles instead of having to excavate them from the rubble. We also need more space for another truck and, due to the topography of the land, there is very little space to expand the truck bays.

After several engineering reports and reviews of the needs of the fire department were completed the CVRD had determined that a new fire hall was the preferable solution. A chunk of land across the road from the existing fire hall was identified as a suitable location and the process was set in motion to acquire this land. First Nations were consulted and the Integrated Land Management Bureau was involved. After 2 years of bureaucracy early this year we got the approval to use that land.

The plot of land is now staked out and flagged. If anyone wants to take a look it’s right across the road from our current fire hall.

The next steps are the budgeting process and the design. The CVRD has come up with a plan that will pay for the new fire hall by increasing property taxes by $.15 per $1000 of accessment. That will shake out to a $75 increase for a $500,000 property.

For the engineering reports, the budget documents, minutes from the committee meetings, and other documents relating to the new fire hall project Click here.

HIFR Participates in Multi Agency Exercise

Hornby Island Fire Rescue sent Deputy Chief, Doug Chinnery, to participate in a large exercise that took place in Oyster River. The operation was to simulate a wildfire that was approaching a rural subdivision. Several area fire departments took part as well as the RCMP, BC Ambulance, Emergency Social Services, BC Department of Forests, 19 Wing CFB  Comox, and Comox Valley Search and Rescue. The fire departments’ involvement was a 1 day classroom and practical training session on Saturday followed by more classroom time on Sunday morning before the actual exercise on Sunday afternoon.

This weekend was of particular interest to HIFR as Hornby Island falls entirely into the wildland urban interface zone and we are at least 2 hours away from any outside help. If there was ever a wildland fire on Hornby, the fire department would be on our own in managing property protection for quite a while.

It was a very well run course and the exercise itself provided much additional insight into how to better protect the Hornby residents and their property from wildland fires.  Thanks to Niels Holbek, Chief of Oyster River Fire Rescue for his invitation and his hospitality.

Multi Casualty Practice

At last night’s practice Duncan and Julian completely outdid themselves. They organized a school bus, a dozen or more volunteers from the community, props, makeup, and a smoke machine to build a very realistic scenario.

We arrived on scene to find the school bus billowing smoke, and 10 – 20 people banging on the windows and calling for help. Our triage team boarded the bus and in short order had all of the walking wounded out of the bus and started work on the 5 remaining injured. All 5 of those patients were packaged for their particular injuries and all came out on a spine board. We had the last of the seriously injured patients out of the bus about 70 minutes after we arrived on scene.

A scene like this calls on many skills:

  • There is the obvious medical care component in dealing with injured passengers. Last night we had a cardiac patient, a head injury, a fractured hip, and 2 spinal fractures, along with all the miscellaneous cuts, scraps, and minor breaks.
  • We called on our fire suppression skills with the simulated fire under the hood of the bus.
  • In getting the front of the bus open, we needed to use our extrication tools and know-how.
  • The incident commander needed to call on some extra logistic planning skills to deal with limited resources for so many patients.

It was a challenging practice, but I believe that we rose to it and I was thrilled with how we performed. While there were several things that we would do differently next time around, this practice made all of us feel confident that we are able to handle a situation like this if it were to happen here.

Thanks to Rubin, Zsofine,  Scott, Olivier, Heron, Sascha, Juniper, Nico, Aarron, Gwynna, and Reina for taking an evening out of their lives and helping us hone our skills. Support like this from our community really helps us with our commitment to the department.

We’d like to single out and mention Duncan and Julian for all of the work that they did to set up this practice. Getting the bus, researching ins and outs of triage, all of the phone calls to organize the volunteers, and the time spent setting up the scene demonstrates an enormous dedication to the department and our training program.

Cadet Camp Grads Extinguish Fire

Soledad
Breanna

On Sunday, March 6 at 1800 we received a general page for a fire on Little Trib beach. We arrived to find a soggy and barely smoldering fire all but extinguished. Further investigation revealed that the bonfire had extended to the dead grasses at the head of the beach, but that had also been extinguished.

As it turns out, a large fire had been left unattended at the head of the beach and in front of a local residence. Soledad and Breanna, two of our recent Cadet Camp graduates came across the fire on their way home and immediately realized the hazard. While one of them found a bucket the other called an adult and initiated a fire department response. Using skills that they learned in Cadet Camp, they safely and successfully knocked down the 1.5 -2 meter flames before the fire could extend to the brush between the beach and the houses.

HIFR would like to thank Breanna and Soledad for their sharp thinking and quick action in helping us deal with a potentially dangerous situation.

Rookie Becomes Firefighter

We are proud to announce that Ian “Embers” Emberton has graduated from rookie to a full fledged firefighter. After putting in two years of training, practices, and public service since joining our department, Embers embarked on the daunting 3-evening task of challenging the firefighter exam.

The exam consists of 2 evenings of practical evaluations including portable pump operation, search and rescue scenarios, fire extinguisher proficiency, smoke ventilation, and proving that he can find and operate pretty much every piece of equipment in the fire hall or on the trucks. A third night is then spent writing an in-house exam dealing with Hornby Island specific items like water tank capacities, pump outputs, and our operational procedures.

Embers has shown an incredible amount of dedication to the department by coming to all call-outs and never missing a practice when he is on island. He adds much to the culture of the department and is quick to volunteer for department tasks.

Congratulations, Ian. We’re all proud to have you.

Bad Roads Postpone Depot Scenario

Our training tells us that fire ground is a dynamic place. Conditions change so we adjust our tactics to suit. Road conditions on Thurday night’s practice enforced that by having us scrambling to adjust our plans.

Initially we were to do a structural fire scenario at the recycling depot. At the time of practice the road to the depot still hadn’t been plowed. Although we could have safely gotten the trucks up the hill, we were concerned about getting them back down. In the event of an actual fire we would have gone, but it seemed unwise to risk close to a million dollars worth of equipment for the sake of a practice.

The firehall benefited from this change as we put the firefighters to work taking care of the chores that had been stacking up lately. We were able to make it an early night and will return to tackle the depot scenario another day.