HIFR Hosts the Blues

I got a call a few days ago from a Hornby Island Blues Society volunteer saying that they needed a replacement venue for a bass workshop. I asked if a truck bay would work and in less than ten minutes he dropped by to check it out for himself. I spent a couple of hours clearing the plan and was thrilled to call HIBS back to say it would work.

Hornby Island Blues Camp’s newest classroom

Ten students showed up this morning to learn bass guitar techniques from their  instructor, Gary Kendall, one of the finest blues bassists in the country.

I’m exited to share our beautiful new firehall with them for the next couple of days and so pleased that HIFR is able to help out with this fantastic festival.

Two Hornby Firefighters Heading to BC Hot Spot

HIFR is proud to be able to send two of our senior firefighters to help with structure protection in the wildfire events in the BC interior. Quana Parker and Sasha LeBaron will be serving as part of a structure protection unit staffed by our friends at Oyster River Fire Rescue and commanded by Chief Bruce Green. They will be leaving on Tuesday and will be staged out of 150 Mile House for their seven-day tour.

This is an exciting opportunity for our two fire fighters to gain valuable wild land fire management experience in a live incident environment. We are looking forward to the stories, skills, and knowledge that they will bring back and share with the rest of the department. With no respite in the weather forecast there is a good chance that two more Hornby firefighters may get the nod for a future tour to the interior.

Join us in wishing Sasha and Quana the best of luck in their deployment. Thank you for answering the call. You are making us proud.

Near Misses and Good Saves

HIFR has been pretty busy over the last few weeks. Despite the extreme fire hazard and the hundreds of fires elsewhere in the province, all of our calls have been medical. That doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down, though. I’ve heard of three recent local incidents that could have resulted in a fairly large scale response.

  • Around the time that the fire hazard went to extreme, I got a call from a resident whose chainsaw exhaust set fire to the log he was bucking up. He had water standing by and was able to extinguish it himself, but the event was an eye-opener into how easily things catch on fire in these conditions.
  • An HIFR member was driving by another resident’s workshop when he smelled smoke. As he was investigating, flames began licking out of the floorboards of the shop. The fire was most likely caused by a blob of hot steel that came from a welding job over an hour earlier. He was able to put out the fire with an extinguisher and saved the shop before any significant damage occurred and before the fire spread to the nearby forest.
  • A BC Hydro employee who happens to be a volunteer with Chemainus Fire was following another vehicle along a Hornby driveway with tall grass down the center. The exhaust system of the car ahead of her lit the tall grass on fire without the driver noticing. Our volunteer was carrying a fire extinguisher in her vehicle and was able to put out the grass fire before it spread to the field beside the driveway.

Here are some takeaways from those events:

  • Be vigilant
  • Carry an extinguisher
  • Avoid using chainsaws or other high fire-risk tools
  • Keep the driveway grass short (use a nylon string trimer)

Water Bomber over Helliwell

I was sorting though a bunch of papers in the office today and came across this gem from 1990.  I’m not sure who took it. Most of our photos around here were taken by Bob Cain but this doesn’t have his stamp on it.  I hope it may serve as a reminder to ensure that your camp fires are out when you leave them. We don’t want a repeat of that event anywhere on Hornby, ever again.

MARS Water Bomber over Helliwell August 1990

Air Ambulance Meeting


L to R: Tammy Schiere (aviation QA for BCAS); Geoff Burkholder (pilot for Helijet); Sonya Tietjen (Safety Manager Helijet); and Dan Baker (Chief Pilot Helijet)

Chief Doug Chinnery and Deputy Chief Quana Parker met at the Lefevre airstrip with representatives of Helijet and BC Ambulance to discuss safety and efficiency improvements for night time air evacuations. There were three main concerns:

  • lack of appropriate landing zone lights
  • unavailable communication channels between the agencies
  • inability of HIFR to get trucks close enough to the landing zone in the wet months

We believe that we have hammered out solutions to all of the problems:

  • We have procured a loan of portable landing zone lights until we can purchase our own.
  • We are reprogramming our portable radios to access the appropriate frequencies.
  • We will be brushing out an old access road and bringing in some gravel to get us closer to where the pilots want to land.

Once we have all the concerns addressed we will do a practice to ensure that all of the systems can be deployed efficiently. Helijet will then schedule a practice run where we will run through a multi agency practice run testing out all aspects of the new procedures.

Huge thanks to the four great folks that came up to ensure that night time air evacs are as safe as they can be. Also, thanks to Ken Craig of BC Ambulance for the loan of the landing zone lights. And special thanks, as always, to Chris Lefevre for his extremely generous gift to our community… the use of his air strip for medical emergencies.

 

Retirement Party!

The entire Hornby community is invited to Giff’s retirement party on May 13th at noon. We’d love to host everyone at the new fire hall but we’re not sure that it’ll be ready so… the old fire hall is the location. There’ll be cake, tea, coffee, and some finger foods although if you have something that you can contribute we’d be very appreciative. Please come and help us honour Giff’s many years of dedicated public service.