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 administration@comoxvalleyrd.ca

Quonset Hut for a Firehall?

Why does a quonset hut building not work for a firehall? I keep hearing this question, so here’s a stab at why it will not work…

I often worry that not everyone understands the role that we play in emergency response on our isolated island. If someone is having any emergency, no matter what it is… a heart attack… a fire… a collapsed house… fallen and can’t get up… panic attack… they’ll see us. There is no BC Ambulance. There is no specialty hazmat response unit. There is no dedicated cliff rescue team. There is no neighboring department on which we can call. There is only Hornby Island Fire Rescue for at least the first 2 hours and we have to be trained in all those disciplines. That is what makes us different from almost all other rural departments.

We do so much more than put out fires. In fact firefighting is one most infrequent jobs that we do. More than half of our calls are for medical emergencies that anywhere else in BC would be a visit from BC Ambulance.

We are not trying to build just a garage to store trucks. This is a building that serves as a base for all of our emergency operations. It’s a depot to store our equipment in a warm, dry spot. It’s an “ambulance” station. It’s a workshop to maintain our specialized gear so we don’t have to send it off island. It’s a kitchen so we have a place to make food while out on long emergency calls or when we get back to the hall at 5AM. It’s a shower and laundry facility to wash the toxic chemicals off of our gear and and bodies. It’s a training center. It’s a public space where we can hold cadet camps and open first aid workshops. Its a meeting room where we can debrief after emotionally damaging incidents. It needs to be warm, dry, comfortable, and safe. Coming back to a quonset hut at dawn, soaking wet, cold, and hungry is beyond unappealing.

Don’t Kill the Firehall to Protest the Process

If you really don’t think we should borrow money to build a new fire hall, then by all means fill out your Alternative Approval Process form and mail it in. If, on the other hand, you are concerned with the process and the switch to AAP, then before you fill out your form in protest, please consider this: Doing so will make the Fire Department and the community at large pay. Rejecting the project through the AAP will put off the start date of the project for three to four months, add several thousand dollars to the budget to pay for a referendum, negatively impact the department morale, and probably raise the construction costs of the project.

Yes, the electoral assent process is messed up, and we’re just as disappointed with the switch as anyone. No members of HIFR had any clue that this was happening until days after the cancellation when a community member posted on the Internet.

If you want to voice your displeasure over the process switch, please contact your newly re-elected director, Bruce Jolliffe, and tell him how you feel. Before filling out the AAP form just to protest the process, though, please consider the costs – both financial and human.

We Worry About PTSD, Too

People may think that here on Hornby Island we aren’t exposed to the events that can trigger PTSD. In the last couple of years our members have:
– Extricated a woman who died falling off of the cliffs at Helliwell
– Removed a 2 day old dead body from a boat
– Removed a burned body from the smoldering ashes of a house.
– Been chased off of a property by someone wielding an ax.
– put in in several 12 hour days looking for a lost kayaker
– performed CPR on several friends and neighbors that didn’t make it.
And that’s just since I’ve been involved. It’s exactly the stuff that can trigger PTSD. Look after your precious volunteers!

Here’s a CBC story about looking after firefighters with PTSD.

Latest report about the Firehall Renewal project

CVRD staff has prepared a report to the CVRD board with the latest cost estimates for the new firehall. Also in this report is an explanation of an additional Community Works Fund grant that could be used to fund the additional construction costs of using a passive house style of construction.

Click here for the report