Chief Charlie Boyte's report for June 2012

Michael Boyle

From now through to October volunteer fire services on the Southern Gulf Islands (SGI) face significant challenges. The summer months have arrived and with them come an influx of visitors and seasonal residents.

As noted here in April, the wet spring has resulted in a proliferation of fine fuels like grass and underbrush and with those fire fuels comes added concern for your fire department. As they dry out these fuels will allow fires to spread easily and fast.

Wildfire is the number one threat to our safety and our property. This threat is compounded when there are more people doing more things in and around the forest. It is also compounded by the lack of water supplies for firefighting, rural response times, and the intermix of homes and forested areas.

Pender Island Fire Rescue will be focused on wildfire prevention, education and early response over the next few months. The wildfire prevention program will be delivered again this year at BC Ferries, the Farmers Market and other venues thanks to partnerships formed with the SGI Fire Departments, SGI Emergency Program, Parks Canada, Ministry of Forests, Islands Trust, the Office of the Fire Commissioner, BC Ferries and funding from the Capital Regional District.

Deputy Chief Mike Dine will be at the helm again spreading his message that fire prevention awareness is our best tool to limit risk. Early reporting and response is also essential. We have studied the circumstances around wildfires like those in Slave Lake last year and Kamloops in 2004. In these cases areas much larger than the Penders were evacuated. Evacuating an island is a challenge we will do everything in our power to avoid. So, we will need everyone’s cooperation to insure wildfires do not get started.

Please remember each of you can make a difference! If burning outdoors be extremely careful and follow the regulations stipulated on your permit. Watch for changes in the hazard rating and remember all permits are cancelled when the “No Fires Anywhere” signs are posted. You are legally responsible for any fire you light. You certainly won’t like the bill or the reputation if you start a wildfire.

Following are some simple truths: If it looks dangerous or unsafe it probably is; call 911 immediately and let a professional dispatcher make the decision about an appropriate response; if we can’t find you we can’t help you so make sure your address is visible day and night; house fires are preventable and can spark wildfires so use the checklist on this website to see how yours measures up.

As well: When it is hot and dry fires will start easily and spread quickly; smokers must keep their butts out of the forests; if you think you are having a heart attack you probably are; the best way to get emergency medical help is to call 911because doctors are not at the clinic 24/7; bikes, narrow roads, pedestrians and motor vehicles do not mix better on the Penders than anywhere else so drive slowly, be visible and be conscious of all types of traffic when using our narrow roads.

Volunteers Serving Community – There is simply no better way to provide quality, competent fire and rescue services in a rural community. This was recently confirmed in a report by FireWise, an independent consultant. An overview of this report was presented at the Pender Islands Fire Protection Society AGM in May.

The report says we are heading the right direction with our fire and rescue services and that the community is very fortunate to have dedicated volunteers looking after us. Congratulations are in order for all the volunteers serving the community who work so tirelessly to train and respond to all types of emergencies on the Penders. We still have some work to do, but overall it is a stellar report card that recognizes the complexities and challenges we face in the safe delivery of services.

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Jon Grelik

Technical Rescue

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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