Chief Charlie Boyte's report for August 2015

Michael Boyle

The weather has been spectacular since early June making the Pender Islands one of the greatest places on the planet to live, work and play. For the same period we have been in High or Extreme fire risk when fires can start easily and spread quickly.

This time of year also brings home our seasonal and part time residents. We see a huge increase in visitors and that means we have a lot more people interacting in and around our forested environment. This seasonal increase in population exponentially increases the risk that someone will forget to be careful. This dramatically increases the potential for wildfires such as we have witnessed across the province.

The good news is our contractors and residents are reporting smoke or risky behaviours early and helping us to educate those who might not understand the risks.

PIFR is also making every effort to ensure our fire prevention message reaches as many folks as possible. We have found the most successful strategy is to do this face to face. It will take a concerted effort by all to limit the number, and consequences, of mistakes. That means we need you to step up and educate neighbours when risky behaviour is observed. It means taking a few minutes with visitors to talk about the risks 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 rolling. 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.

For the past eight 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.

We are also regulating higher risk activities in an effort to prevent fire starts. These restrictions will remain in effect due to this extended period of extremely hot and dry weather. No outdoor burning or campfires are allowed. All gas or diesel equipment and other spark-producing activities are prohibited unless the fire department has issued an exemption permit. PIFP may issue permits when necessary to do work providing adequate measures are in place to mitigate risks. Please go toWork Restrictions to see exactly what activities are restricted before starting any work.

Smokers must be extra careful with smoking materials. Carry a butt container in your car and never smoke around forested areas. Smoking is prohibited in parks and on trails. If you smoke please sit down in a safe place to do it and ensure you manage your ashes and butts responsibly.

Despite all our education we have had several reports of people tossing cigarette butts out car windows and many butts are found on roadsides. Please call 911 if you see this illegal behaviour. Take the licence plate number and note the location of the incident. Stop in a safe location and extinguish the butt if you can. RCMP will be happy to track the offenders down. Under the Wildfire Act this behaviour is punishable with fines up to $500,000 and two years in jail. Offenders can be held accountable for all fire fighting costs.

It is also important to note that you are required by law to have working smoke alarms 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 109 emergency and medical calls so far this year. They love this community and are committed to ensuring that when you call for help someone will come with the right tools, equipment and knowledge to help you through that emergency. Please call 911 early so they can get to you sooner and ensure that is exactly what happens.

Thank you and stay safe.

Fire Chief Charlie Boyte

Forest Fire Threat Level

Burning is permitted
No permit is required
Regulations apply


Mack Dine

Fire Fighter 2
Technical Rescue

PIFR Members Only

For any Emergency:

call 911


250 629-3321


Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict Valid CSS!