Backyard Burning is Closing

Backyard burning of yard waste will be closed on Sunday, May 23 at noon. Campfires will still be allowed.

In making the decision to close burning, we consider the weather forecasts, the current fire hazard conditions for areas around us, and in-person assessments of local forest conditions.

For reference, a campfire is a half meter in diameter and used for cooking, warmth, or ceremony. Below is an infographic that explains the different categories of open fire.

RIP Chief Dale Chase (ret)

Photo: Bob Cain (1984)

It is with great sadness that I report that Retired Fire Chief Dale Chase died suddenly on May 3rd. Dale was Fire Chief on Hornby Island for several years in the late ’90s. Under his watch, HIFR (then HIVFD) was a vibrant group with a full roster of 30 active members. Chief Chase attracted a crew of young, enthusiastic volunteers and ushered in an era of professionalism not often seen in remote rural departments at the time.

Dale’s knowledge of rope work from his caving experience was a huge asset to the Fire Department. Members learned how to safely conduct rope rescues on an island with many cliffs and terrible rock. The knowledge that Dale passed on has been put to the test many times over the years and there can be no doubt that he was integral in helping make the Hornby Island Fire Rescue the superb organization that it is today.

Rest in Peace, Chief. We’ll take it from here.

Club of 50 Awards

It is tradition at HIFR to acknowledge those volunteers who attended 50 or more calls in the previous calendar year. These awards are usually handed out at our Christmas party but we weren’t able to have a banquet this year.

With ten hours left before the year ends, here are the dedicated members of HIFR who went on at least fifty calls in 2020:

  • Lt. Rob Lewis with 74 calls
  • Deputy Chief Albini Lapierre with 51 calls
  • Paula Courteau with 56 calls

Join me in thanking them for their intense commitment to HIFR and our community.

We went to 170 calls in 2020 but HIFR members attended an astounding number of individual events. Adding up the total number of training sessions, practices, meetings, public service events, and call outs that we went to, I arrive at 1559 person-events!

Everyone here has a different reason for putting in the time that they do, but the support that we receive from our community is a driving factor for so many of us. Thank you and Happy New Year to all of Hornby Island!

Holiday Update: Personnel

Here at HIFR we mark anniversaries in half-decade increments. It’s disappointing that 2020 is a year we can’t get together and celebrate when there were so many long service anniversaries for us:

Fire Servcies Exemplary service Medal (Federal)
  • Faroe DesRoche: 5 years
  • Deputy Chief Albini Lapierre: 15 years
  • John Heinegg: 15 years
  • Sasha LeBaron: 15 years
  • Jeremy Paine: 15 years
  • Paula Courteau: 25 years

While all those anniversaries are notable, please join us in congratulating Paula on so many years of dedicated service to our island community!

Also notable is Sasha Lebaron will be retiring at the end of this year to spend more time with his family and to grow his business. Through his time at HIFR, he has served as Training Officer and Lieutenant and has spent dozens of weeks as duty officer .

In 2021, when we can get together again, we will have a proper celebration with letters from the Governor-General, medals, gifts, and handshakes. The dedication and commitment of our fire and first responder crew is inspiring.

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.