Donated Building Gets Good Use

Hornby Island Fire Rescue-6Donated buildings or “acquired structures” are a mixed blessing. On one hand they provide excellent experience and on the other, they are a tonne of work to make them safe enough to use for practice. Many departments don’t use them anymore, preferring to use concrete training structures. Here on Hornby, we have no such structure and are remote enough that getting to an off island facility is often impractical.

Hornby Island Fire Rescue-21After ensuring that the building is safe, we start with a few weeks of practices using theatrical smoke to work on our search and rapid attack skills. Once everyone is familiar with the structure, and we have our apparatus and hose deployment honed, we do several practices where we light and extinguish small fires in the building.

The week before we are scheduled to burn it down we run a few evolutions of attacking a fairly large fire to simulate a “room and contents” fire. It is in those evolutions that we can really exercise our attack skills.

The weekend that we burn the building to the ground is the one that the public notices but is the least useful practice of the months of use that we have gotten out of the structure.Hornby Island Fire Rescue-17

Thanks to Don Peterson for the photos and to Bill and Jae at the Four Corners property for donating this cabin to us.

Abandoned 911 Calls

The recent line of duty shooting of Lac-Simon police member Officer Thierry Leroux is a tragic event. HIFR sends condolences to his family, friends, and co-workers. While not an abandoned 911 call, it does highlight some of the dangers of walking into a domestic disturbance situation.

Here on Hornby Island, especially during the non-summer months, we have a very limited police presence. As a result, HIFR is occasionally called out to investigate abandoned 911 calls. If a 911 caller hangs up before the dispatcher feels that the situation is resolved, someone must attend the scene to ensure everyone is OK. Normally that is the job of the police, but since they are two hours away we sometimes get the call to “have a look”.

The RCMP tries to vet the call so that if there is an obvious threat they won’t put us in harm’s way, but it can be very hard to tell with just a hangup on the other end. Is the caller in the middle of a heart attack and unable to speak? Was the caller cleaning the phone and accidentally hit the 911 speed dial? Or is there a domestic disturbance and the caller was unable to get a message across?

It is an agonizing decision for the HIFR Duty Officer to refuse to attend the scene knowing that they could be putting themselves and the rest of the crew in peril but also knowing that a fellow islander could be in trouble. We have the right to refuse to attend these calls and sometimes make the decision to do so.

If you should accidentally make a 911 call, please do not hang up. Stay on the line and explain to the dispatcher what has happened. You will save several people a great deal of time and stress.

Our Newest Firefighter

Congratulations to Quana Parker, who recently moved from the ranks of “rookie” to full fledged firefighter by passing his in-house proficiency test.  The test ran him through all of the things that are unique to our department like the water tank network, our portable pumps, where we keep things on our trucks, and our specialized procedures. It is a 6 hour test and he crushed it.

Quana was a member of the department 15 years ago before he moved to Vancouver. We’re thrilled to have him back. Congratulations Q.

Saving You Money on Your Insurance Premiums

mailout1For a few years we have been implementing a plan to get “hydrant protected” status for all residential properties on Hornby. We are getting close and the proposed new fire hall is an important piece in that puzzle. Here is our letter to the community explaining that in a bit more detail.

We don’t have fire hydrants on Hornby but there is a certification that rural fire departments can get that says that they can deliver enough water with their trucks to be equivalent to a hydrant. That can mean big savings on residential insurance.

We’ve heard that some residents have had some problems getting their insurance brokers to commit to offering discounts when we achieve our goal. Here are letters from two Vancouver Island insurance companies showing significant savings.mailout 3                          mailout 2


mailout 4Some think that it’s unrealistic that a small rural department can achieve this certification. This is a letter from Rick Jackson, Fire Chief for Gabriola Island, outlining what they have done to successfully achieve their accreditation. Errington Fire Rescue has also successfully gone through this process.

hendersonBut does any of this really make a difference for the property owners who are paying insurance premiums? To the left is a letter from someone familiar to many Hornby Islanders. Dr. Bob Henderson was one of our doctors for many years. He has a house on Gabriola where they have been able to get “hydrant protection” for their residents and property owners.

We’ve spent years putting together the infrastructure necessary and we are confident that we can achieve this milestone. What is missing is the truck that we need to deliver the water. We have the money to buy the truck. We have the water tanks in place for distributing our water sources. We need a heated, dry, lockable space attached to the firehall in which to store the truck. That’s where the new firehall comes in. Please help us save you money by voting YES on April 18.

Here’s an easy way to support us

The CVRD board is happy to hear statements of support with regard to the new firehall. It obviously won’t change the results of the AAP, but if it did fail, it might ensure that the question will at least go to a referendum instead of the project being cancelled altogether.

Yes, its possible that the CVRD board could completely cancel the project if they feel that the negative responses were in sufficient numbers to indicate a lack of general acceptance. If they were to get messages of support for the project it would suggest a more even split and make it less likely that we would have to start all over.

You can send a supportive email to