Backyard Burning Opening

On Hornby Island, permits will be required prior to lighting your pile. Call the firehall at 250.335.2611 to request your free permit. We write them on Wednesdays and Saturdays and they are usually good for two weeks.

Burning can only take place on days with a good venting index. You can see the venting index on the link on the right-hand side of this page or click here and look for “CNTRL VAN ISLAND”.

Forest Fire Structural Protection Practice

Last Thursday evening Hornby Island Fire Rescue had the pleasure of getting some training from a few members of Comox Fire Rescue. Fire Chief Gord Schreiner and three of his members came to provide us with knowledge and skills for use when dealing with a wildland-urban interface fire. Sixteen of our department members received training at a considerable savings to our training budget with the generous offer of Comox to come to us for an evening of sharing.

These skills, when combined with a FireSmart prepared property, give us a greater chance of saving infrastructure and properties on the island when a forest fire rolls through.

The FireSmart BC program is designed to help home owners prepare their home for a forest fire that impinges on their property. Visit the FireSmart BC website for a questionnaire and advice that will help you protect your home.

This program combined with working smoke detectors are your best chance for protecting your home and memories.

Our thanks go out to Comox Fire Rescue for sharing their knowledge and investing their time in our community.

HIFR Welcomes New Truck

Yesterday we retired our old rescue truck, and at last night’s practice we welcomed its replacement. It’s a 2006 Ford F550 that we acquired courtesy of Oyster River Fire Rescue. Over the last half year, we have tweaked and changed, and painted, and just before this year’s busy season we were able to put it into service.

We’ve affectionately named it “64” after its predecessor, although it’s often referred to by its less official nickname, “New 64”.

The entire department pushes the new rig into its bay

The “wetting down” ceremony is a long-standing tradition dating back to the days of horse-drawn fire trucks. In those days, the firefighters would unhook the truck from the horses, wash it, then push it into the garage by hand. It became a tradition that fire departments follow whenever a new apparatus arrives.

We asked our newest recruit, Ticara, and our most senior firefighter, Rob, to do the wetting.

Thanks to our friends at the Campbell River Fire Dispatch Center for providing the inaugural page to welcome the new truck. Thank you also to Rachelle for the photos.

Old 64 Retires

A good friend retired. Our old and faithful 1981 International rescue truck came out of service yesterday after steadfastly serving our community for 36 years.

Back when old 64 was called 61.

When it first arrived on Hornby it was named “61” and was the first-out engine. It had a front mounted pump on a large platform as you can see in the photo to the right. In 2006 a new pumper truck arrived and became 61. The old International had its water tank and pump removed, was refitted with cabinets to become a general purpose rescue truck, and was renamed “64”. It transported our high angle rescue gear, our auto extrication tools, the trail rescue equipment, and our wildfire gear.

It always starts, runs like a champ, and has been a great truck. We even used it to transport a patient when the starter died on our patient transport vehicle. Sure, it spews carbon monoxide and leaks a bit of oil, but who among us doesn’t have similar problems.

Goodbye, friend. Long live the new 64.

New rules for High Risk Activites

All across the Comox Valley Regional District, fire departments have been using different guidelines when considering high-risk activities during times of extreme fire hazard. We have all now settled on one consistent set of rules.

Staff at the CVRD set up a web page that explains these guidelines and activities.

To be clear, at this time there is no ban on high risk activities. We will provide notice when or if that time comes.

Thursday evening, we practice.

Many of our Islanders are aware that our members gather to practice on Thursday evenings. Sometimes we are around our fire hall and often we are out and around the island. Our practices range through a large number of skills; Superior Water Shuttle (the reason your fire insurance just dropped), Auto-Ex (car accidents), and Forestry drills, just to name a few.

Tonight (June 6th) we are practicing our shoreline Search And Rescue. We will be in the area of Whaling Station with our crews walking the beach searching for a perfectly healthy volunteer patient. For those of you in the area, when you see all the trucks and the members walking up and down the shoreline, relax as we are just practicing. All is good.

Hornby Island Fire Rescue would like to extend our thanks and appreciation for all the members of the public who support our training. We can be loud, we can get in the way, and for those who don’t know, we can cause concern. Your patience and support help all islanders and visitors by allowing the department to be ready when we are needed.

Our Firefit Stars

While the rate of structure fires in communities across Canada, and here on our home Hornby Island is thankfully infrequent; the physical demands and challenges presented to firefighters, is taxing to say the least.

While we train as a group on a regular basis, there is a breed of firefighter that thrives on going the extra mile and training to a level above and beyond that of the norm. Enter the Firefit games.

Started in 1994 at the PNE, the Firefit games are hailed as the toughest two minutes in sports. Having seen it live, the author must agree. A friendly and exciting challenge for firefighters from across the country, the event mimics exercises that might be encountered in a live fire situation in a firefighter’s home town. Climbing six stories with a 40-pound hose pack, pulling a hose donut up those six stories by rope, forcible entry with a 500-pound dead weight needing to be moved, pulling and using hoses full of water, all topped off with the rescue of a 175 pound victim. Only the fittest will finish, let alone with a noteworthy time.

And yet here on Hornby we have two firefighters who rose to the challenge and did just that. On May 11 in Courtenay the regional Firefit competition took place with firefighters from across BC and Alberta. And Hornby’s very own Jasper Savoie and Doug Chinnery did HIFR and its community proud. Weeks of in-house training with improvised tools, and the dedication to spending the extra time needed to face off the best from around the west led to times that topped some of the finest firefighters that other departments put forward. With times of 2:03 and 2:57, Jasper and Doug showed that HIFR has some of the most elite firefighters around. 

The department is proud of our members as a whole, but these two went the extra mile and we couldn’t be any happier that they showed the broader firefighting community what our little volunteer department has on offer.

If you see Jasper or Doug in your daily travels, congratulate them for their dedication to training and the department.

Backyard Burning is Closed

Considering the extremely dry weather, the rising fire hazard, and the wildfires that have been happening on Vancouver Island, we have decided to close all backyard burning for the season. Effective noon on May 10, no more permits will be issued and any open permits will be cancelled.

Campfires are still allowed but must be limited to .5 meters x .5 meters. Campfires are for cooking, warmth, or ceremony, not for backyard cleanup. Please fully extinguish your campfires using water. Burying them with gravel or dirt is not a great method of extinguishing them.

Backyard burning season will likely reopen in late September.