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.

2019 Incident Breakdown

In 2019 HIFR attended 193 incidents making it was the busiest year in our history. The bar graph that follows seems to indicate a trend toward increased call volume.

Here is a breakdown of the type of calls that kept us busy last year.

FR (medical)126
Duty Officer18
False Alarm9
Public Service8
Beach Fire7
Chimney Fire5
Motor Vehicle Incident MVI 4
Hydro Lines3
Brush Fire2
Ground Search2
Structural Fire2
Investigation (no fire)1
Fire Unclassified1
Burn Pile1
Walk-in First Aid1
RCMP Assist1
Telephone Wires1
CO Alarm1

Polar Bear Swim

The weather is forecasted to be cloudy and warm with a chance of showers for the 2020 edition of the Hornby Island Polar Bear Swim. HIFR will be at Grassy Point beach with trucks, hot dogs, chai and a big bonfire in anticipation of the multitude of swimmers hitting the water at noon sharp.

This is a great family event with everyone from 6 years old to those in their 80s swimming or just watching the spectacle.

Pro tips:
1) Bring a mug for the hot chai to avoid a single use cup.
2) Wear water shoes because the pebbles can be hard on your feet.

Don’t let the shocked looks scare you. The water is usually very warm.

Two New Promotions

I am thrilled to announce the promotion of Jac Graham and Ben Peterson from the rank of rookie to that of firefighter. Jac and Ben both successfully challenged and intense HIFR in-house written test and a practical exam that takes two evenings to complete.

Sure, they get shiny new stickers for their helmets, a gold nameplate, and yellow id-tags. What they really get, however, is the acknowledgment of their peers that they are a competent firefighter that can be trusted to carry out important tasks on a fireground without supervision.

Aside from skills and enthusiasm, they both have a great sense of humour and bring smiles and good cheer into the firehall. Hornby Island is lucky to have them. Congratulations to Jac and Ben!

Shiny new helmet decals await those who can successfully challenge the in-house exam.

Disposing of Rescue Truck

HIFR and the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) is disposing of a 1982 International rescue truck (VIN 1HTAA18B2BHB30370). The vehicle starts reliably, runs nicely, and is roadworthy. It has been meticulously maintained. It has a gasoline-powered engine and is not equipped with air brakes. This truck is located at 3715 Central Road and is offered “as is, where is”. 

Offers clearly marked “Disposition Hornby Island Rescue Truck”, may be submitted by email to or in-person to 600 Comox Road, Courtenay, BC, V9N 3P6, until 2:00pm on Wednesday December 18, 2019. 

In order to be considered, interested parties should ensure the offer is received by the CVRD before the submission deadline. 

Queries regarding the vehicle should be directed to Doug Chinnery Fire Chief, by email at or by calling 250.335.2611. Queries regarding the process should be directed to Scott Hainsworth by email at or 250.334.6000.

No Permits Required

As of Wed, October 16, residential backyard burning no longer requires a permit. However, please have mercy on your neighbours and burn only on a day with a good venting index. You can find a map showing the venting index on the right-hand side of this website.

Keep in mind that category 3 piles always require a permit. Category 3 piles are those that were built by a machine or those that contain stumps or large logs.

Backyard Burning Opening

On Hornby Island, permits will be required prior to lighting your pile. Call the firehall at 250.335.2611 to request your free permit. We write them on Wednesdays and Saturdays and they are usually good for two weeks.

Burning can only take place on days with a good venting index. You can see the venting index on the link on the right-hand side of this page or click here and look for “CNTRL VAN ISLAND”.