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.


There are few things I like more than giving out helmet stickers, P.A.S.S. tags, and collar dogs. The latest two promotions were to Jasper Savoie and Rob Lewis.

Jasper’s first exposure to HIFR was when he was 13 and attended one of our early cadet camps. He joined us as a member a few years later. He’s been off-island for months at a time for trades training, but always comes back and works extremely hard to catch up. I am so pleased to announce his promotion from rookie to firefighter.

Rob Lewis joined us three years ago and immediately went on a tear learning as much as he could and taking on whatever jobs were on offer. He is our volunteer fund treasurer and training officer and I’m thrilled to be able to promote him to the rank of Lieutenant.

Congratulations to both of them. They’ve worked really hard to achieve these milestones.

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

We love the Co-op!!

As many of you know from seeing us around the island every Thursday night, we practice. Rain or shine, (okay we did take one snow day this year) we are out at various places on Hornby to try and refine our skills as firefighters.

After practice we do a debriefing to discuss what went right, where we can improve, and how to best do our jobs.

A perk after the hard work is “after practice snacks”. It’s at this time that we can do a little socializing and have some yummy treats to recharge our energy levels.

Over the last while, we have been lucky enough to have a generous patron in the Co-op. They have set up a system to give us a little help with the supplies that we buy to make the treats and beverages that we consume at the end of the night.

So a big thanks to the Co-op and all the amazing staff there from all of us at Hornby Island Fire Rescue. It’s so great to have the support of our community and the Co-op.

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.