A Poem From a Supporter

To all the Hornby Island firefighters and the ones who wait.

He’s gone. Out the door, running. To the truck, to the station, to the house on fire. Met by all the others -courageous souls- having left warm beds. Minds woken and run-through with a quickening revision of skills. Flames ahead are not warming; they are not of the candle stick variety. They are a different beast, grown monstrous from pretty ember, from glow to raging live flame. He’s gone. Out the door. And I wait, in the dark.

— Rachelle Chinnery

Cadet Camp 2012 Cancelled

With a sad heart we have had to cancel this year’s Cadet Camp. We only had 10 registrants this year and we need 12 to make it happen.

The spring break for this school district didn’t line up with the break for the South Island and Lower Mainland districts. This means that the 6 or 8 kids that have summer homes here weren’t able to attend. Hopefully next year the dates will line up better for us.

HIFR Installs Fire Extinguishers at Elder Housing

The Hornby Island Elder Housing Village is a convenient and affordable housing village for Islanders 55 years and older. The society that operates the village relies on the generosity of Hornby Islanders and the goodwill of volunteers to keep the rents as low as possible.

Chief LaRose volunteered the better part of a Saturday installing over a dozen fire extinguishers in the dwelling units ensuring that each unit has a working extinguisher. Thanks for your work, Giff.

Marching in Support

On Jan 5 Al Cannon and I were in Enderby to convey Hornby Island Fire Rescue’s deep sadness in the death of Enderby firefighter Dan Botkin. We marched with over 1100 other firefighters in support of the Enderby Fire Department and a community mourning the tragic loss of one of their brightest stars.

The parade wound like a navy blue ribbon through 1KM of downtown streets lined with residents. The only sounds heard were the boots on the street and the pipers at the parade’s head… no cars… no busses… no voices. As we marched, the divisions between volunteer, paid, and auxiliary members melted away and we changed from an assembly to an association.

I saw the row of school kids who had been let out to watch the procession holding their colourful sign stating, “We salute our emergency workers” but was too emotional to acknowledge them. Same with the older gentleman who was unable to march but was standing along the route proudly wearing his long service medals.

Once at the arena, we entered in single file and filled the auditorium floor while the community members filled the stands. A moving service took place with some particularly powerful words from our Lieutenant Governor, Steven Point and two of Dan’s long time friends.

We travelled 11 hours each way in a cramped vehicle with 4 other firefighters, and at times on the way there I was wondering what I was doing it for. On the way home, though, I knew I would be willing to travel twice as far in worse conditions to experience again the pride and sense of belonging that I felt during that parade.

— Doug Chinnery

Fall Faire

Ashe Samuel about to ring the bell

The Hornby Island Fall Faire is the favorite island event of many people. We at the fire department feel that way as well. It’s a great time to show off our #1 engine, stir up interest in joining the department, and distribute some smoke detectors.

This year’s faire was even more fun due to Lloyd House’s amazing contribution. Lloyd built a “Test Your Strength” machine, otherwise known as a “high striker” and gave it to us to raise money for our volunteer fund. We offered 3 tries to ring the bell for 1 dollar and raised in the neighborhood of $180!

Lloyd’s high striker was a huge hit with the crowd. Big and small and old and young lined up to smash the machine and at times there were 50 or 60 spectators hooting, hollering, and cheering.

Huge thanks from us to the Fall Faire organizers and especially to Lloyd House for his incredible high striker machine. That kind of community spirit is what makes us live here.

People We Love

Sure, friends and family are a given but something happened today to make me think of some of the other people who are great supporters of HIFR.

Leslee Richards, the proprietor of Pizza Galour, stopped me at the Co-op to tell me that she had a box of pizza slices in her freezer for the fire department. I stopped by to pick it up and there must have been 10 pizzas worth of slices in the box. Thank you so much, Leslee, for that great donation. There are few things that the crew enjoys more after practice than a slice or two of your pizza.

Along those lines, Helene Cregheur, the proprietor of the Cardboard House bakery often has a box of sweets for us to be consumed after practice or callouts. Her cream cheese brownies are my personal favourite and there is never anything left but crumbs when we put them out.

Graham and Gloria Herbert almost always drop off a bag of gourmet cookies when they come back from a town day, and Elenora Laffin rarely sends Julian to practice without baking something for the crew. Honeybee Smith shows up every so often with one of her fabulous lemon pies, as well.

Being a part of the fire department is a huge commitment that comes with the stress of responsibility and many hours spent away from work or family. Often the thought of a Thursday night practice after a long day of work is almost unbearable, but the knowledge that we have the support of the community is very motivating.

Thank you to all those that I’ve mentioned above and anyone else that has dropped off food or given us an encouraging word. You are why we do what we do.

Orlando Graham’s Poster

I remembered a wildfire prevention poster contest we had in the school in 2006 for the Grade 3-5 class. The students were asked to draw a poster of what they thought would be a clear and simple message to warn of the dangers of wildfire. The winner of the contest would have their design made into posters, which would be used in a campaign to increase public awareness on the Island and on the Mt. Geoffrey trail system.

Orlando’s design was clearly the best we received (as voted by the firefighters). He had captured the
essence of the impact of wildfires on the forest and the creatures that live there. As modest as ever, Orlando didn’t sign his art and by the time I had all the copies made and laminated and magnetic signs made, it was too late to get his signature on them. You will still see them around; stapled to the trees at trail entrances and on the sides of our department vehicles.

I will have new copies made and posted to once again remind everyone of the impact our actions can have on our forests and wildlife.

Giff La Rose, Fire Chief

Search and Rescue Update

Hornby Island Fire Rescue, along with many other community members, has been involved in an intense ground search for Orlando Graham. The RCMP, 442 Squadron from CFB Comox, Canadian Coast Guard. the Rescue Coordination Center in Victoria, Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue, and many other Search and Rescue (SAR) groups from Campbell River to Cowichan, have been searching the water and land since Wednesday night. At times there were upwards of 75 people working within the organized search plan and countless others searching on their own.

The response from the Hornby Island community has been every bit as generous as we’ve come to expect. The various SAR teams have been astounded by how well our island has looked after them and supported their efforts. We’re extremely proud of our island and particularly proud of our Fire Department. Our members absolutely shone in their assigned tasks, demonstrating professionalism, passion, and dedication to the job.

We can’t thank enough everyone who helped out, but there were some standouts. Valerie Pagnier came 4 times with batches of fresh baking and Mia Wood made lunch for 40 people. Rachelle Chinnery and Theresa Hamilton did a search detail, then worked the rest of Thursday and Friday coordinating food and coffee. Ian Emberton took time away from the new twins to transport food and to make a batch of cookies. Many other Islanders patiently waited to be assigned a search team and then diligently carried out their task.

Wilson Curry worked tirelessly all Thursday doing several search details. Then at the end of the day slipped on a rock and badly sprained his ankle. We wish him a speedy recovery and thank him for his hard work.

At this time the command structure of all of the involved organizations agree that any location where Orlando would be if he was injured or needing help has been exhaustively searched by both people and 4 dog teams. There is, however, no conclusive evidence to indicate what has happened to him. Please have a good look in any of your outbuildings, cabins, or structures.

The off island SAR teams have left and aren’t expected to return unless additional information or clues emerge. The RCMP will continue to comb the coastline from the water as well as exploring other investigative avenues. The Fire Department has stood down but is ready to start it all over again if something comes up.

All of our members, as well as the community at large, are extremely saddened by Orlando’s disappearance. Our hearts go out to Veronica, Renaud, and the rest of Orlando’s family.

Chief Giff LaRose
Deputy Chief Doug Chinnery

If you have any concerns or questions about the search please contact Doug at 218-9156 or Giff at 335.1115. We are happy to provide any information that we can.