Chief Charlie Boyte's report for March 2017

Michael Boyle

The first part of the year started very busy with 41 emergency calls answered by February 13 compared to 17 over the same period in 2016; a 140 per cent increase in volume. Clearly, our volunteer responders have been working hard; so, when you see them out in the community a little thank you will certainly be appreciated!

Last month, it seems I was not the only one who missed the replacement date on a smoke alarm. I am really glad that I admitted this oversight because I received a rewarding email thanking me for the reminder. Every 10 years, these devices must be replaced to ensure they will function when needed. Under current law, you must have working smoke alarms in your house so please avoid any liability and keep your family safe. Don’t wait … check the date.

I also received an email that included a challenge to check your fire extinguishers. All fire extinguishers should have a current annual inspection tag. If you need help checking your extinguishers or if they are missing inspection tags, you can bring them to Hall 1 and we will be happy to inspect them for you. We can also point you in the right direction if they need servicing. Each year during Fire Prevention Week, PIFR holds a free inspection clinic. Please put that reminder in your calendar for the week of October 8-14th.

Again this year, we are coordinating a fire/rescue Cadet Camp for teens age 15-18 in partnership with Salt Spring Fire Rescue and other SGI Emergency Services including RCMP, SGI Emergency Program, BC Ambulance and volunteers from the SGI Fire Services. The camp focuses on values, ethics, teamwork and cooperation, conquering fears, and overcoming challenges.

When Deputy Chief Mike Dine started the camp in 2005 the goal was to mentor teens by exposing them to the amazing volunteers who serve our communities. However, the reality is we have realized so much more. Our volunteers have been moved by the commitment, abilities and determination of the young people who participated, and they have come away with a deep appreciation of the value and the bright future these young people bring to our communities. Our trainers and volunteers also come away with a renewed passion and vigor for community service as the teens ignite the passions that brought them to serve in the first place. In the near future, we hope to develop a program that includes our First Nations youth, so it is very exciting to see the program developing to its full potential.

Our 2017 firefighter and recruit training programs are well underway. The province has defined new training standards and we expect to see a new Fire Safety Act implemented as soon as the regulations are complete. Significant changes across the province are on the horizon, and we will be keeping a close eye on these moving forward. We will inevitably see increased pressures on our training dollars to meet our obligations under WorkSafeBC and other legislation, but we are well positioned to address these challenges. Certainly, once the training building is completed, we will be able to offset most costs and help our neighbouring departments through our training capacity.

The BC Government has proposed a $3,000 volunteer tax credit for responders similar to the federal tax credit to support volunteer responders in 2017. Hopefully, this proposal will be passed in the Legislature as it is much needed to support our volunteers.

Thanks for your support and stay safe out there, folks.

 

Fire Chief Charlie Boyte


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