Fireworks cancellation

We are sad to announce that the fun and festive fireworks show that we have all come to enjoy at Halloween will not be happening this year.

As a department, we had a lengthy discussion about how we could continue the tradition in a safe manner that respected the COVID protocols laid out by the amazing Dr. Bonnie.

We realized that we didn’t have enough control over the event to ensure widespread safety, and we also want to be leaders in setting an example of respecting the appropriate distancing and crowd sizes.

We appreciate your understanding, and like you we look forward to a safer future and the resumption of “normal” times.

Local Business Support

We are in the middle of building our training center and we have received generous support from a couple of local businesses.

Hyland Precast donated a yard of cement and sent it over on a truck that was headed to Hornby for another job. That saved us hundreds of dollars.

Eben Walmsley does a lot of work around here. He has donated backhoe time for our landscaping project, moved our generator, and is always quick to arrive when we need advice on how to handle an earthworks issue.

AFC is constantly supporting us in many ways. They have loaned us equipment that was here for the school construction. They are also incredibly accommodating when it comes to sharing resources that they bring onto Hornby. However, in my opinion, the biggest way that they support us is by employing several of our members and by allowing them to leave work to attend calls.

HIFR is lucky to enjoy a vast amount of community support, but I want to single those three companies out for going above and beyond.

Burning Ban Lifts on Sep 25

HIFR will follow the Coastal Fire Center lead and remove the backyard burning ban on Friday, September 25 at noon. We will not be writing permits for category II piles, but please call the fire hall at 250.335.2611 to register your burn.

  • Watch the venting index and don’t light your fire on a poor venting day. You can find the vent index on the right margin of this page.
  • Have water and hand tools standing by
  • Do not leave the fire unattended.

Category III (machine-built) piles require a HIFR permit and a registration number from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources. You can get your registration number by calling 1.888.797.1717.

Please watch for upcoming news regarding a chipping program for late October or early November where we will have a contractor to chip your yard waste instead of burning it.

Some Bike Trail Closures

In less than three weeks, HIFR has done three difficult trail rescues for mountain bike crashes. Each of these rescues involves at least eight rescuers, and they usually last about four hours. Two of the patients were flown off via helicopter with serious injuries. All of these crashes were on stunts.

With the cooperation of Hornby Island Mountain Biking Association, the HIRRA trails committee, and the Comox Valley Regional District, we will be making the following closures:

  • the gap jump on “Devil’s Kitchen”
  • a barricade and warning has been placed at the entrance of “Your Mom”
  • “Dylan’s Drop” road gap
  • Various other unsanctioned features will have additional warning signage.

The closures will be in effect until the pandemic is at a place where our volunteer trail rescue crew doesn’t have to wear shields, masks, and gloves, and spend additional hours decontaminating our equipment. These rescues are particularly hard on our volunteers because of the number of people required, the time involved, and the secondary trauma resulting from dealing with these severely broken people. The extra effort required to avoid being infected with COVID-19 pushes these rescues to the limit of what our people are prepared to do on a regular basis.

Please help our volunteer trail rescue crew by riding within your abilities and avoiding high-consequence routes.

A Reminder About Military Location Markers

Military Location Marker MLM

A resident recently found one of these Military Location Markers or MLM on the beach just north of Phipps Point.

Fully charged or discharged, these devices can be extremely dangerous. They contain a phosphorous powder which is highly flammable and burns extremely hot. Occasionally a small amount of powder is left in them and could cause a serious injury if spilled on skin.

The folks at CFB Comox take a washed-up MLM very seriously and usually show up within 24 hours to pick it up. If you find one of these devices please do one of the following:

  • call the Duty Desk at CFB Comox at 1-866-488-0889 and tell them the location of the MLM
  • call 911, ask for fire, and request a “duty officer” call to retrieve an MLM

Temporary Lifting of Burning Ban

Effective Friday, June 19 at noon, the Coastal Fire Center has lifted the backyard burning ban. There is a recognition that homeowners have piles of forest fuels as a result of Firesmarting their properties and it makes sense to burn them now before the real dry season sets in.

Here on Hornby Island we are a little drier than much of the rest of the coast so we will open up burning in a more limited way. Here are the guidelines:

  • Fires must be under 2 meters in diameter
  • Branches must be less than 10cm in diameter
  • A hose connected to a reliable water source must be standing by
  • The burn can happen between 8AM and 8PM
  • No permits are required, but please call the fire hall (250.335.2611) to register your burn by leaving your name, address and phone number.
  • Burning garbage is not allowed.
  • Please be kind to your neighbours by only burning when the venting index is good. https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=6d288bc667b24528a5c1e3b4c0373d07

Category 3 piles, which are machine-built piles are not permitted. Please call the fire hall if you have any questions.

Backyard Burn Restrictions

On April 1 all fire departments in the Comox Valley Regional District will prohibit back yard burning. At a time when emergency personnel resources are at a premium, we just don’t have the people to write permits. Also, any fires that got away because they weren’t built in a safe spot or lacked the hand tools to control them would also take away from our resource pool.

“We know COVID-19 is a severe respiratory illness,” says CVRD Board Chair and EOC Spokesperson Jesse Ketler. “One of the reasons our fire departments have taken this coordinated approach is to support our region’s air quality. As a community, it’s also vital that we support our first responders. Banning open burning will limit the need for site visits and inspections, and reduce the potential for wildfires. Let’s protect our firefighters so they in turn can help us when we truly need it. I also want to reinforce the need for everyone to stay home, and limit essential trips to your own neighbourhoods as much as possible,” adds Ketler. “This is not the time to drive to Cumberland, or our Comox Valley beaches. Denman and Hornby Islands have already asked visitors to stay away – not just to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but to avoid draining their resources, including groceries and water.” 

All of us at HIFR thank you for your cooperation.

Cadet Camp Cancelled

It is with sadness that I am cancelling this year’s cadet camp.

The concern is mainly around maintaining the ability of the HIFR crew to respond. If one of our members were to become sick, it might require testing for all of us. During the three to four days it took for the tests to come back, we would have to self-isolate, which could have a severe effect on the number of members available to respond to an emergency. Other fire departments have the option of calling a neighbouring department to help, but we are remote enough that is not a reasonable option for us.

Today I spoke with doctors, risk management people, other fire chiefs, and parents. There were compelling arguments on both sides of the question. However, the consequences of self-isolation for the majority of our team were too severe to ignore. To all the cadets, I’m so sorry I had to do this. It was not an easy decision.

CEPF Grant Approved

We are excited to announce that HIFR, through the Comox Valley Regional District, was awarded $25,000 to be used to purchase structure protection equipment. The grant is part of the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund from the Union Of BC Municipalities.

We will be using the money to buy sprinklers, folding water storage tanks, pumps, hoses, and fittings. We are learning that it is not the wall of fire in a wildfire event that is igniting houses, but the falling embers and firebrands. This investment in equipment will allow us to set up sprinklers in advance of an oncoming fire to wet down the area around a house and prevent those embers from setting it on fire.

The grant money will be available in April and we are hoping to have all the components in place before the summer wildfire season.

We would like to thank Denman Island Fire Chief Don Luckett for his hard work in stickhandling the four CVRD grant proposals through the system.