Memorial For Giff LaRose

The celebration of life for retired Fire Chief Giff LaRose will take place on Saturday, January 26, here on Hornby Island.

There will be a procession from the fire hall to the community hall beginning at 1330. The distance is about 500 meters. The honour guard will march behind the engine followed by members of HIFR, then other fire service personnel, then community members.

The service will begin at the community hall at 1400 with the last alarm ceremony, and then will be taken over by Giff’s nephew, Keith.

For those coming from Vancouver Island, getting on the 1205 ferry at Buckley Bay will get you here in time for the procession. Return ferries are every hour, on the hour.

Polar Bear Swim

As is tradition, every year at the very last minute we throw together something and call it “organizing the polar bear swim”. The swim will happen on New Years Day at Grassy Point. We will be hitting the water en masse at noon sharp.

We just went and cut up a truck load of cedar mill slabs so we will have a bonfire and hot dogs, but due to the nature of my (dis)organization skills, maybe no chai. Sorry about that.

Big thanks to the ISLA board and to Shannon Cupper for the mill slab donation!

Chimney Fires

Today was the second time we’ve been called out in a span of two months for a chimney fires. Fortunately, in both of these incidents, the fire did not escape the chimney and there was no damage to the houses. In both cases, the fires occurred at the bends of the chimney. These are vulnerable points because that is where the creosote builds up.

If you have a chimney that has an offset, or bend to get into the wall, like one of the photos below, it will require more frequent cleaning. Sometimes it’s as easy as taking out the screws holding the pipes together, taking the pieces apart and removing the “gunk” with a stiff bristle brush,

A bend to get into the chimney behind the wall
Offset to align wood stove with chimney above.

A straight chimney is the ideal situation because it’s easier to clean, has a better draft, and is less likely to build up creosote. In those cases where a straight chimney isn’t an option, frequent cleanings will help prevent a potentially catastrophic fire.

If you do have a chimney fire call 911. If it is safe to do so, open the stove, throw 1 cup of water into the stove, close the door, and close the damper. Then leave the house and wait for the fire department to come.

Passing of Retired Fire Chief Giff LaRose

It is with shock and profound sadness that we learn of the death of retired Fire Chief Gifford LaRose, who passed away suddenly while on vacation. Giff was a 20-year member of Hornby Island Fire Rescue and served as Chief for 15 years until his retirement in 2017.

Chief LaRose’s legacy with HIFR will be remembered as one of realized vision. Among other things, he was responsible for a network of water sources across our island, and was the driving force behind our beautiful new fire hall. Our department and the safety of our community is where it is today largely due to Giff’s vision and hard work. Aside from his incredible body of work with HIFR, he served on several community-based boards and worked hard to make our island community a better place to live.

We are devastated to hear of his passing and are holding his family and many friends—both inside and outside of the fire service—close in our thoughts.

HIFR Achieves STSS Accreditation

The Superior Tanker Shuttle Service (STSS) accreditation is an endorsement from the Fire Underwriters Survey that a fire department can deliver—with trucks—the amount of water equivalent to a fire hydrant to every house within 8 km of the fire hall.  With this accreditation comes an improvement in the home owner’s fire insurance rating to “3BS”.

After 10 years of planning and practice we have achieved this accreditation by showing we are able to pump 200 imperial gallons of water per minute for 2 hours. For HIFR this involved using three portable tanks, two water tanker trucks, a pumper truck, 10 personnel, and hundreds of hours of training.

In 2015 we told the community that if they built us a new fire hall, we would save them money on their fire insurance by getting the STSS accreditation. Within a year of moving into the new fire hall we successfully challenged the accreditation test and fulfilled our side of the bargain. This is a monumental achievement in the history of HIFR and we are all incredibly proud of what we have accomplished.

We are working on an information package for you to present to your insurance company to realize some savings on your premiums. In the meantime, at the bottom of this post are links to letters from the Fire Underwriters Survey that may help inform your Insurance broker.

Please feel free to call Fire Chief Doug Chinnery at the fire hall at (250)335-2611 if you have any questions.

Letter of STSS Accreditation

Letter of Recognition of Insurance Grading

 

Late Night Incident Ends with Abandoned Boat

There was an incident just before midnight last night near Mushroom Beach at Helliwell Provincial Park. Two fellows had problems with their boat motor and were just able to limp into the sandstone shelves north of the beach. They refused help from the fire department, choosing instead to weather out the night close to their boat.

In the morning they discovered their boat had been beat up on the rocks, the motor had come off the boat and sunk, and the gas can was no where to be seen. Apparently wallets, keys, and some other personal items are also sleeping with the fishes, as they say.

They arranged a ride off island and assured both me and the Coast Guard Environmental Response dispatcher that their boat was sunken and wouldn’t be a hazard. I had Firefighter Lewis go investigate, and just as I suspected, we now have a tin boat on the shelves near Mushroom Beach.

 

At this point HIFR is “clear of scene” but as a frequent admirer of this stunningly beautiful spot I’m looking for suggestions on how to deal with this. I think that the seats are packed with Styrofoam that will be spread far and wide if the boat breaks up much further.  I’m thinking that hauling it up the cliff and disposing of it at the recycling depot is the only environmentally sound method of dealing with it.

What are the Types of Burn Piles

I just got the latest newsletter from the Coastal Fire Center which contains a lot of great information about what makes up the various categories of burn piles.

Is your pile a category III or category II? Did you know that you are legally obliged to only light up your burn pile if the venting index is “good”?

If you plan on burning a pile of waste in your backyard please have a look at this newsletter.

Retirement of Iain Palmer

These are Iain’s long service medals with a letter from the Governor General of Canada.

Our end-of-summer barbecue was held last week and was mainly a retirement party to honour Iain Palmer’s 31 years of service to our community.

Iain was one member of the team that began our First Responder program back when sick people were being driven off island in the back of a station wagon. He was instrumental in acquiring our first ambulance.

He then went on to do our fire inspections and served as public safety officer. Iain is one of those people who doesn’t say a lot, but when he does speak up it’s always worth paying attention to. Thank you to Iain for his many years of public service and for his even keel and wise words.

Iain is a very practical sort of fellow. When we heard how rickety his 30 year old wheelbarrow was, his retirement gift became obvious.

Smoking and Butt Disposal

Yesterday our duty officer responded to a smoldering log at the parking lot at Little Trib.  Someone had put out a cigarette on the crispy dry red cedar log that marks the parking area. A nice on-shore breeze fanned the embers and it spread into the log.

Little Trib Parking area. The red arrow marks the log that was smoldering.

Right beside the log is a metal can for disposing of cigarette butts. On the other side of the log is a quarter acre of dry grass. Downwind of the log are really dry scrubby beach shrubs and four homes. When I visited the site today I found 6-8 cigarette butts that looked less than a week old in the grass.

Little Trib beach access is highways land and it is legal to smoke there. However, those logs at the edge of the parking lot border on very dry and flammable private land. Please, if you use that log for a get-together or for just enjoying the view use the metal can for your butts.  Perhaps consider moving down onto the gravel beach when smoking.  That way if an ember falls onto the ground it won’t light up the dry grass.

Also please let others, who may not be following social media, know the importance of being safe with cigarettes.