Chief Charlie Boyte's report for February 2014

Michael Boyle

We concluded 2013 with a total of 206 emergency calls and the volunteers have already attended several calls since January 1st. As we settle in to 2014 at PIFR our new recruit class is well into the second full day of our basic training program. This year we have seven new firefighter recruits, one new communications specialist and five recruits from Mayne Island in the class. We appreciate these recruits stepping up. Our very best wishes as you strive for success in program and start your mission to serve.

PIFR has been delivering accredited training to the internationally recognized standards since 2007. We do this in house thanks to some exceptional work by Deputy Chief Mike Dine and Captain Adrian Hanson. This program has revitalized members and allowed us to maintain a viable number of volunteers. To capitalize on our ability to deliver this training we forged cooperative cost sharing agreements with the other Southern Gulf Island (SGI) departments. These agreements allow us to keep our training costs affordable and deliver the best possible training to our volunteers. It also assures we meet the requirements of the Workers Compensation Board and that our Mutual Aid partners are in sync when we need them. It also builds trust and capacity in the SGI departments should we have a major fire or natural disaster.

A properly accredited fire department results in huge cost savings in fire insurance premiums. On Pender those savings will vary based on water supply (recognized hydrants), but generally the saving will equal or exceed, by up to four times, the cost you pay in fire department levies. Fire insurance is extremely expensive in unprotected areas and sometimes it is unattainable without a fire department.

Pender Islanders currently enjoy the benefit of a 3A or 3B rating depending on the location of the closest fire hydrant. 3A applies to areas with approved hydrants and 3B to the rest of the residences on the Penders. (If you would like to learn more about insurance grading send me an email at and I will forward a detailed explanation of the rating system and cost analysis.)

Those of you watching the news lately have heard that Sooke is at risk of an insurance rating change due to a lack fire department volunteers. That could have huge financial implications for residents looking to secure fire insurance. What wasn’t discussed much in those news stories was the risk to safety and security. I believe the alarming element of this story is the potential loss of life and property due to a shortage of volunteer firefighters or delayed response to emergencies. Volunteer recruitment and retention is a formidable challenge in North America. While we do much better than most, we will need all the help we can get from this community to overcome that ongoing challenge.

The valuable services provided by our fire department have not occurred by chance. They are the result of measured and careful planning by a proactive Board of Directors and have been maintained through a robust strategic planning process. The right number of fire halls, suitable modern fire apparatus located within eight km of every dwelling and sufficient numbers of skilled and trained volunteers allow every resident of the Penders the same benefit in safety and insurance. You can learn more about Fire Protection on this website.

Until next month stay safe and remember to check those smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms save lives!

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Julie Gray

First Responder

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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