Chief Charlie Boyte's report for June 2013

Michael Boyle

Lately, many of you have heard our sirens at all hours. We have attended 82 emergencies as of May 17. That’s 21 more than the same period in 2009 ... an increase of almost 30 per cent

This increased call volume has kept our volunteers very busy attending to a wide range of emergencies including a substantial brush fire on Hooson Road on May 12. It was the result of a permitted slash burn that got away from the contractor when the wind changed direction. The fire was burning over more than 750 meters when we arrived.

With the help of a Ministry of Forests crew that came by helicopter and a Parks Canada crew that came by ferry we were able to contain this fire to the initial burn area. The fire was declared extinguished May 15 when the area was checked with a thermal imager to ensure all hot spots were extinguished.

Certainly this was an early reminder for all of us at Pender Island Fire Rescue of the potential threat of wildfires.

So, I am pleased to report this month that we have reach another milestone in our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe from the annual wildfire threat. We now have a new tool to keep us focused on prevention. That tool is the Pender Islands Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP).

This action plan is now complete and in the hands of the Southern Gulf Islands Emergency Program Commission and the Pender Island Fire Protection Society.

The plan provides a foundation for collaboration; details risk assessment results; and constitutes a blueprint for reducing wildfire risk. It was the work of several partners including PIFR, the Capital Regional District, Parks Canada, the Islands Trust and the Ministry of Forests.

This blueprint for wildfire risk reduction provides an evidence-based planning tool that quantifies the effectiveness of risk reduction strategies. The most effective strategies include: Reducing possible ignitions, developing high volume water supplies in high risk areas, FireSmarting homes, and establishing evacuation alternatives from Magic Lake Estates.

Now that the plan is finalized, the first step is to establish a Pender CWPP Advisory Committee to oversee implementation of the plan’s objectives and to identify and coordinate funding opportunities.

One of the primary goals is to reduce human ignitions by 50 per cent ... these are potential wildfires started by carelessly discarded cigarettes, unattended campfires and backyard burns. To accomplish this we must continue the very successful BC Ferries education program. We must expand our public education efforts in schools, at the public market and at other community events. And, we must continue outdoor burn control measures through effective signage, messaging and permitting measures.

The good news is now that we have our CWPP in place we qualify for access to Union of BC Municipalities fire prevention funding. And, we will be in a better position to embark on pilot projects such as wildfire fuel management in areas where forests meet residential development.

Smoke alarms – Please note, a new law requires all older buildings and homes to have working smoke alarms. These alarms are designed to keep you alive! Too many people have been dying because they were not alerted early and were overcome by smoke and poisonous gasses. You should have a working smoke detector on each level of your home that contains sleeping accommodations. This includes your summer cabin and recreational vehicle if you sleep there. The changes to the B.C. Fire Code affect every private dwelling, hotel and motel room built before 1979. The B.C. government says battery-operated smoke alarms are allowed in these older buildings because putting in hard-wired electrical devices might be too difficult or expensive. Pender residents who can’t afford to equipment their dwellings with battery-operated smoke detectors can get one free at Fire Hall #1. Smoke alarms come with directions about where they should be placed. And, if you have any questions please call us at 250-629-3321.

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Todd Bulled

Fire Fighter 2
Technical Rescue

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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