Chief Charlie Boyte's report for August 2013

Michael Boyle

PIFR report for August 2013

As July turned into August the fire hazard rating was often “extreme.” In high and extreme hazard conditions fires will start very easily and spread quickly. With so many visitors arriving on the Penders the risk of someone forgetting to be careful increases the potential for a catastrophic accident with devastating consequences.

We are doing our best to make sure our fire prevention message reaches as many folks as possible. The best way is face to face with our neighbours and visitors. For the past six years our team of volunteers, under the direction of Deputy Chief Mike Dine, has delivered an aggressive 10-week campaign at Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to reach residents, non-resident property owners and tourists to educate them about the unique fire risks on the islands. That campaign has resulted in a lot of “ah ha” moments and those moments of insight and learning have resulted in a 30 per cent reduction in smoke and fire related calls.

Despite this work we have had several reports of people tossing cigarette butts out their car windows. Please let us know if you see this irresponsible behaviour. Take the licence plate number and note the location of the incident. RCMP will be happy to track the offenders down so we can pay them a visit. Your information will also allow us to link them to any fire that may start and hold them accountable.

Prevention is our first line of defence but mistakes still happen. It will take a concerted effort by visitors and residents to limit the number and consequences of those mistakes. We need to help each other in this mission. That means stepping up to educate neighbours when risky behaviour is observed. It means taking a few minutes with visitors to talk about the risk and communicating the reality that emergency services do not arrive in three minutes as they do in the city. Everyone needs to be aware that they must call 911 at the first sign of smoke, fire or other emergencies. That speedy call gives us a chance to assemble and get there. Visitors need to know the street address where they are staying and that address needs to be clearly marked so we can find it quickly.

It is also extremely important to note that you are now required by law to have working smoke detectors in your home or summer cottage. This includes any building that has sleeping accommodations. You can be held criminally responsible if someone is injured or killed because they were not alerted to smoke in a building. Fires or smouldering materials found in modern homes create smoke that contains carbon monoxide, poisons and carcinogens. These silent killers can overcome you while you are sleeping or awake. If there is smoke in the house get out, stay out and call 911 immediately.

Our volunteers have responded to 98 emergency and medical calls to date. Please do your best not to be 99. If there is an accident call 911 immediately. I guarantee our well trained volunteers will come quickly; they will know what to do; and, they will help you with concern, care and compassion.

Now the fun part of my report! Please put the Smokin’ Hot Garage Sale on your must-do summer calendar. This great fundraiser will take place August 17th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Orchard Farm, 1206 Port Washington Road. All proceeds will go toward the Southern Gulf Islands Fire Rescue Cadet Camp program. Please support us in developing our next generation of community firefighters. There will be food, fun and lots of fabulous finds so we hope to see many of you there.

Until next month please be safe and enjoy this great summer.

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Stuart Scholefield

Support Crew

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


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