Chief Charlie Boyte's report for August 2014

Michael Boyle

If you have been watching the news about the wildfires burning around BC you will understand why all of us at PIFR are on our toes. It is shaping up to be one of the worst wildfire seasons on the Pacific Coast.

It is imperative that we are proactive and have sound strategies to address the consequences of extreme weather. And, it is extremely important that island residents and visitors stay vigilant as we head into August, often the hottest and driest part of fire season.

There are three primary factors that influence our ability to reduce the possibility of a wildfire devastating our community: public awareness, early reporting and initial response effectiveness.

You can be a huge help in increasing awareness of our wildfire hazard. A few words between neighbors over the fence is way more effective than any article I could ever write. Our fire preventions teams are working hard in the community and at the ferry terminal but there is plenty of opportunity right in your own back yard.

This is especially true when your neighbors are visitors or part time residents who may not be aware of the risks or regulations that have been implemented to keep us all safe. Face to face communication is also very effective in getting people to report smoke, fires and risky behaviours early so we can respond quickly before a fire rages out of control.

The key things to remember are these:

  1. Report all smoke and fires right away by calling 911 even if you think a small fire is out or under control
  2. ensure addresses are clearly marked and communicated to the dispatcher.

The first point allows us to contain fires in the early stages. We would much rather get there and find the fire is small than chase around the Penders issuing evacuation notices. The second allows us to find you when you make that 911 call. Because the community has grown telling us that it is “next to Bill’s house” just doesn’t work anymore. A well-marked address may also save your life or that of a loved one in a medical emergency. Minutes wasted finding the address can make the difference between life and death.

To provide effective initial response all PIFR apparatus and equipment has been checked and serviced to ensure it won’t let us down. We have been strengthening our relationships with our mutual aid partners in the surrounding fire departments through joint training so we can call on their resources in the case of a large incident. Our volunteers are training their hearts out and are, by all definitions, professionals of the highest calibre. We are upgrading our training facilities to support them in maintaining the skills they need to do their jobs effectively. Please have a look at this month’s issue of the Pender Post for a page of information on the project and discover how you can help us.

I’ve received a number of calls regarding hazardous activities and work closures. Current information is posted on this website including a home fire assessment section that can help you and your neighbors stay safe.

As of July 19th our responders had attended 111 emergency calls in 2014. That compares with 103 over the same period in 2013. This is an increase of about eight per cent. Clearly, our volunteers are being kept quite busy.

Last but not least, please insure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home and in any sleeping accommodations on your property. There are still far too many people dying in their sleep who could have been awakened in time to escape the deadly smoke and heat created by the combustion of modern household materials. You have mere minutes to escape. If you have a fire, get out and stay out. Never return to a burning structure. Bottom line – make sure your smoke alarms work. It’s the law and it’s the right thing to do for your families, friends and visitors.


Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply

member

Stuart Scholefield

Engineer
Support Crew

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911

Non-Emergency:

250 629-3321

administration@
penderfire.ca

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