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.

Car Fire Practice

Patrick works the nozzle on the initial attack

We don’t get very many car fires here on Hornby. In fact there hasn’t been one since I joined the department. Despite their infrequent occurance, extinguishing them safely is a skill that we like to keep up on. To that end we have constructed a prop which is a stripped minivan that we can pack full of wooden pallets and set on fire.

Newer cars present many challenges for fire suppression:

  • Bumper struts can explode shooting a bumper into a firefighter’s knees.
  • Air bags can explode with shrapnel.
  • Hatchback struts can explode and shoot a metal rod like a crossbow bolt.
  • Newer cars have plastic fuel tanks which can drop off of the car and melt releasing gasoline onto the ground.

The team moves in under protection of a wide fog to kill the fire
Working in teams of three, firefighters approach the vehicle from the side or corner dumping as much cooling water onto the flames and under the car as possible. When they get close they open the nozzle pattern to a fog to protect them from the heat of the fire. Once at the car, the nozzle pattern gets narrowed again to fit through the window and extinguish the fire.

Exams Happening at a Feverish Rate

Our new training officer, Sasha LeBaron has been cracking the whip to get our members to advance their training. Last Thursday saw a flurry of exams.

  • Ian Emberton continued his in-house firefighter exam. All that remains is his written exam and he can remove the rookie designation from his helmet.
  • Doug Chinnery wrote and passed his module 6 written exam dealing with salvage and overhaul operations on the fire scene.
  • Patrick Lui completed his module 2 practical exam where he demonstrated textbook fire extinguisher technique and masterful donning on turnout gear and breathing apparatus.
  • Dave Hanna wrote his module 7 exam, the topic being sprinkler systems, public education, and fire prevention.
  • David Cloud wrote both module 6 and his hazmat awareness exam.

Each of last few months has seen several people advancing their training by writing exams and completing practical evaluations. This is good news for the individual, for the department, and for the community at large. Thanks to Sasha for driving this process, Duncan and Giff for administering the exams, and for all the firefighters who are spending even more of their spare time to better themselves and the department.

Galleon Tank in Service

The tank at the bottom of Sollans had its plumbing completed last week and the Chief was able to fill it by pumping it full of groundwater. That leaves only the tank at the top of Euston Road to be completed before all of our new tanks are in service.

For a list of all of our tanks have a look at the water supply page.

Dryer Vent Safety Alert from Safety Authority

“A dryer and the attached vent system requires regular cleaning and maintenance, just like your furnace or other fuel burning equipment. Lack of regular cleaning and maintenance of dryers and their attached venting systems, has been identified as causing fires.”

The BC Safety Authority has issued a safety alert about maintaining your dryer vent. The upshot is that when lint collects in the vent, the dryer has to work harder to push the air out. This will heat up the dryer even more, creating a feedback loop and possibly a fire hazard.  Read the whole alert here.