Two Hornby Firefighters Heading to BC Hot Spot

HIFR is proud to be able to send two of our senior firefighters to help with structure protection in the wildfire events in the BC interior. Quana Parker and Sasha LeBaron will be serving as part of a structure protection unit staffed by our friends at Oyster River Fire Rescue and commanded by Chief Bruce Green. They will be leaving on Tuesday and will be staged out of 150 Mile House for their seven-day tour.

This is an exciting opportunity for our two fire fighters to gain valuable wild land fire management experience in a live incident environment. We are looking forward to the stories, skills, and knowledge that they will bring back and share with the rest of the department. With no respite in the weather forecast there is a good chance that two more Hornby firefighters may get the nod for a future tour to the interior.

Join us in wishing Sasha and Quana the best of luck in their deployment. Thank you for answering the call. You are making us proud.

Near Misses and Good Saves

HIFR has been pretty busy over the last few weeks. Despite the extreme fire hazard and the hundreds of fires elsewhere in the province, all of our calls have been medical. That doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down, though. I’ve heard of three recent local incidents that could have resulted in a fairly large scale response.

  • Around the time that the fire hazard went to extreme, I got a call from a resident whose chainsaw exhaust set fire to the log he was bucking up. He had water standing by and was able to extinguish it himself, but the event was an eye-opener into how easily things catch on fire in these conditions.
  • An HIFR member was driving by another resident’s workshop when he smelled smoke. As he was investigating, flames began licking out of the floorboards of the shop. The fire was most likely caused by a blob of hot steel that came from a welding job over an hour earlier. He was able to put out the fire with an extinguisher and saved the shop before any significant damage occurred and before the fire spread to the nearby forest.
  • A BC Hydro employee who happens to be a volunteer with Chemainus Fire was following another vehicle along a Hornby driveway with tall grass down the center. The exhaust system of the car ahead of her lit the tall grass on fire without the driver noticing. Our volunteer was carrying a fire extinguisher in her vehicle and was able to put out the grass fire before it spread to the field beside the driveway.

Here are some takeaways from those events:

  • Be vigilant
  • Carry an extinguisher
  • Avoid using chainsaws or other high fire-risk tools
  • Keep the driveway grass short (use a nylon string trimer)

Water Bomber over Helliwell

I was sorting though a bunch of papers in the office today and came across this gem from 1990.  I’m not sure who took it. Most of our photos around here were taken by Bob Cain but this doesn’t have his stamp on it.  I hope it may serve as a reminder to ensure that your camp fires are out when you leave them. We don’t want a repeat of that event anywhere on Hornby, ever again.

MARS Water Bomber over Helliwell August 1990

Air Ambulance Meeting

L to R: Tammy Schiere (aviation QA for BCAS); Geoff Burkholder (pilot for Helijet); Sonya Tietjen (Safety Manager Helijet); and Dan Baker (Chief Pilot Helijet)

Chief Doug Chinnery and Deputy Chief Quana Parker met at the Lefevre airstrip with representatives of Helijet and BC Ambulance to discuss safety and efficiency improvements for night time air evacuations. There were three main concerns:

  • lack of appropriate landing zone lights
  • unavailable communication channels between the agencies
  • inability of HIFR to get trucks close enough to the landing zone in the wet months

We believe that we have hammered out solutions to all of the problems:

  • We have procured a loan of portable landing zone lights until we can purchase our own.
  • We are reprogramming our portable radios to access the appropriate frequencies.
  • We will be brushing out an old access road and bringing in some gravel to get us closer to where the pilots want to land.

Once we have all the concerns addressed we will do a practice to ensure that all of the systems can be deployed efficiently. Helijet will then schedule a practice run where we will run through a multi agency practice run testing out all aspects of the new procedures.

Huge thanks to the four great folks that came up to ensure that night time air evacs are as safe as they can be. Also, thanks to Ken Craig of BC Ambulance for the loan of the landing zone lights. And special thanks, as always, to Chris Lefevre for his extremely generous gift to our community… the use of his air strip for medical emergencies.


Retirement Party!

The entire Hornby community is invited to Giff’s retirement party on May 13th at noon. We’d love to host everyone at the new fire hall but we’re not sure that it’ll be ready so… the old fire hall is the location. There’ll be cake, tea, coffee, and some finger foods although if you have something that you can contribute we’d be very appreciative. Please come and help us honour Giff’s many years of dedicated public service.

Thursday Practice At Your House

Too often we end up going to the same locations for our Thursday evening practices. It would be great if we had a few spots where we could run a practice, especially a place where we haven’t been in the last few years.

If you are a home owner and would be comfortable having HIFR conduct a practice at your house there are many benefits:

  • We’d become familiar with your property, your buildings, and the best ways to access them,
  • We’d be able to give you some pointers on how to better fire proof your property for the dry summer season,
  • We’d be able to determine if your home was within reach of one of the community water tanks or if we would have to shuttle water in a truck,
  • You and your kids would be able to have a close look at how we operate and as well as get a close look at our trucks and equipment,
  • It’s a fun way to help out your Fire Department.

We’d be at your place between 7:45PM and 9PM and would probably spray water somewhere in your yard where it wouldn’t harm anything. We wouldn’t need access to the inside of your house.

If this sounds like something that you’d like to participate in, please send an email or call the Fire Hall at 250.335.2611  and leave a message.

Watch out for MLMs

A resident recently found one of these Military Location Markers or MLM on Big Trib and called us to let us know where it was. When we went to pick it up we noticed that it was completely intact and fully charged. Normally they are found having been discharged.

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 would 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.