Chief Charlie Boyte's report for July 2016

Michael Boyle

PIFR responded to 93 calls by June 12 compared to 70 in the same period in 2015, an increase of 33 per cent.

The early fire season and wildfire devastation we have witnessed is a wakeup call for all of us living, working and playing in and around the island forests. When houses are in forested areas, as they are on the Penders, a house fire can start a wildfire and vice versa.

Be vigilant, report smoke and fires early and ensure your street number is clearly posted at the driveway entrance so we can find you easily. This allows PIFR to respond quickly before fires become unmanageable.

Because PIFR is staffed by volunteers, dispatch, response to the halls and travel to the incident averages 12 to 15 minutes. Urban departments with paid staff enjoy a six to eight minute head start. To help make up for that time difference call 911 immediately.

Our fire risk will be heightened by high temperatures and drying in the months ahead. It will take a concerted effort from property owners, visitors and friends to prevent a wildfire in one of our SGI communities.

PIFR and other SGI fire departments will again deliver the Wildfire Prevention Program at Swartz Bay on Fridays. This educates the traveling public and part time residents who are often the least informed about wildfire risks and typically the hardest to reach. This program’s success is due to exceptional work by Deputy Chief Michael Dine and our team.

The program has reduced the probability of wildfires by more than 30 per cent. Again this summer, it is funded by the CRD through the Southern Gulf Islands Emergency Management Commission and funds or in-kind donations from the Saturna, Mayne, Galiano, Salt Spring and Pender Fire departments.

PIFR will also be at the farmers markets, the Driftwood and other public venues to keep fire prevention on everyone’s mind. We hope to get new signage to keep islanders informed and address the ongoing problem of cigarette butts on the sides of roadways.

The early fire season has challenged local contractors. Limited working hours have created economic hardship. We are working with contractors to identify solutions to keep our projects moving, keep our workers and trades on-island and not increase wildfire risk.

We have proposed a “Fire-Smart Contractor” program to form fire prevention partnerships with contractors and owners to permit some activities in high and extreme fire hazard conditions. Following best practices in risk management and initiating fire prevention measures, “Fire-Safe” partners conducting yard maintenance, excavation, and wood processing will be issued permits and allowed to work extended hours providing the work can be done without risk.

This will result in some equipment running after 1 p.m. during high fire risk and possibly in the mornings during extreme risk periods. This must not be seen as community-wide permission to fire up tools in high risk environments during closures.

Smoke alarm must function on every floor that has sleeping accommodations, including cottages and sleeping cabins. If you are away a lot you should install a monitored smoke alarm and replace your alarms after 10 years.


Fire Chief Charlie Boyte

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Sandy Johnson

Technical Rescue

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict Valid CSS!