Chief Charlie Boyte's report for July 2012

Michael Boyle

June 15th PIFR attended a house fire that started in a clothes dryer. Fortunately, no one was injured and we contained the fire to the laundry area.

Even a small fire like this can be deadly. Smoke from modern materials contains hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and other deadly gasses and carcinogens. In this case there was a working smoke detector. The owner was home and called 911. Despite diligent cleaning of the lint filter the dryer had built up deposits in the machine and ductwork. This restricted the air flow and provided fire fuel in the element compartment.

It is important that all dryer users check for this build up annually (more often if the dryer sees heavy use) and insure the machine and ductwork are cleaned regularly. Unlike traditional cottons, clothing now contains rayon, nylon and other materials that burn readily and at extremely high temperatures.

Even a small fire like this has major consequences. The smoke permeates the house. All items have to be removed and professionally cleaned along with the carpets, drapes, walls and ceilings.

Thanks to the quick work of our firefighters damage was minimal and the owners will likely get back into their home in a month or two. Despite black smoke down almost to the floor our committed volunteers were able to find the fire and limit the loss. Because we train so diligently for these incidents the owner’s cherished possessions were saved.

The owners are most thankful and asked that I share this story to help prevent this occurring in another Pender home. Please check those dryer vents for buildup and if necessary have a professional ensure your dryer is clear of fibers and safe.

The Fire Chiefs Association of BC has a “zero fire deaths” goal as a result of missing or non functioning smoke detectors. If you do not have a working smoke detector in your home, cottage or any other building where someone may be sleeping you are breaking the law. Worse, you are putting lives at risk needlessly. If you cannot afford a smoke alarm or cannot install one yourself – call PIFR at 250-629-3321 and we will ensure an alarm is installed in your home. No excuses folks ... check that your smoke alarms are working, less than 10 years old and keep your loved ones safe.

We are now in complete fire closure. Our wet June may lead you to believe this is not necessary but most of that moisture will be long gone this month. This burning ban is mandated by Capital Regional District (CRD) bylaw #3452. Do not get complacent folks. The high risk season is upon us.

You may see campfires or smoke at Prior Park again this summer. We have lobbied Parks Canada persistently to respect the CRD bylaws enforcing the Southern Gulf Islands (SGI) outdoor burning ban. This effort has gone all the way to the Minister in Ottawa, but Parks Canada wants to preserve the “visitor experience” of camping with campfires. We say it puts the community at risk and we have suggested that Parks Canada show leadership through alternate provisions such as gas fired campfires or safe cooking stations.

I urge all of you who share our concerns to contact your MLA, MP and Parks Canada. There is a Parks Canada office at Roseland where you can lodge a complaint.

Thanks to the Community Wildfire Protection Plan Working Group and the CRD SGI Emergency Program Advisory Commission we have a grant for the Swartz Bay Prevention Program. Many thanks to Director Dave Howe for his support. Deputy Chief Mike Dine will again lead our prevention team. Thanks to another generous grant from the SGI Emergency Program we also have some new tools to spice up our presentations.

Until next month, stay safe and remember to report any outdoor fires or smoke immediately by calling 911.

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Richard Lamy

Fire Fighter 2
Technical Rescue

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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