Chief Charlie Boyte's report for July 2010

Michael Boyle

Of all the services your fire department volunteers and staff deliver, none is more vital to the safety of our community than our fire prevention programs.

For the third summer in a row the Southern Gulf Islands Wildfire Prevention Program is going into high gear and will be delivered at the BC Ferries Terminal at Swartz Bay. It will also be featured on the Southern Gulf Island/Tsawwassen ferry trips if funding is made available.

This program has been made possible because of the hard work and determination of Deputy Chief Michael Dine and his great team of volunteers. The program is always very well received; it serves a broad range of the traveling public and, last year, resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in fire and burning related calls on the Southern Gulf Islands.

That means a much reduced chance of a major fire starting in our communities. The provincial government spent more than $400 million in 2009 to fight wildfires. A helicopter pilot was killed and seven structures were destroyed. Wildfires put lives at risk, threatened property and cause tremendous economic and environmental damage. More than 20 per cent of wildfires are caused by humans and most are preventable.

It should be clear, as the old saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Regardless, we continue to struggle to obtain a few thousand dollars to fund fire prevention. I have been actively pursuing grant funding for the program for several months again this year to no avail. This makes absolutely no sense to me. If there is someone out there in the community that is well connected or versed in grant requests I would love to get some help to find sustainable funding for this great program.

Your PIFR volunteers are working very hard for you. As of June 8, our volunteers had answered 92 emergency calls. They commit an incredible amount of time away from their families to keep us all safe. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude for the exceptional services they provide for all of us and thank them and their families for their dedication and courage to do this sometimes dangerous work.

I think it is also very important to acknowledge the help we continue to receive from the Pender Post in our efforts to get our message to as many islanders as possible. We really do appreciate the valuable work you do.

"NO FIRES ANYWHERE" signs have been posted. Our bylaw does not allow any outdoor burning in July, August and September. There are ticketing provisions in the bylaw that allow fines to be levied for contraventions. The fines are substantial, but much worse than any fine would be the awful realization that you had started a wildfire in our community. Please be extremely careful during this high risk period and report any fire or smoke sighting immediately by calling 911.

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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