New Firehall Update

The existing firehall is in danger of collapsing in the event of an earthquake. If disaster were to hit this area, it would be very important that we would be able to access the emergency vehicles instead of having to excavate them from the rubble. We also need more space for another truck and, due to the topography of the land, there is very little space to expand the truck bays.

After several engineering reports and reviews of the needs of the fire department were completed the CVRD had determined that a new fire hall was the preferable solution. A chunk of land across the road from the existing fire hall was identified as a suitable location and the process was set in motion to acquire this land. First Nations were consulted and the Integrated Land Management Bureau was involved. After 2 years of bureaucracy early this year we got the approval to use that land.

The plot of land is now staked out and flagged. If anyone wants to take a look it’s right across the road from our current fire hall.

The next steps are the budgeting process and the design. The CVRD has come up with a plan that will pay for the new fire hall by increasing property taxes by $.15 per $1000 of accessment. That will shake out to a $75 increase for a $500,000 property.

For the engineering reports, the budget documents, minutes from the committee meetings, and other documents relating to the new fire hall project Click here.

HIFR Participates in Multi Agency Exercise

Hornby Island Fire Rescue sent Deputy Chief, Doug Chinnery, to participate in a large exercise that took place in Oyster River. The operation was to simulate a wildfire that was approaching a rural subdivision. Several area fire departments took part as well as the RCMP, BC Ambulance, Emergency Social Services, BC Department of Forests, 19 Wing CFB  Comox, and Comox Valley Search and Rescue. The fire departments’ involvement was a 1 day classroom and practical training session on Saturday followed by more classroom time on Sunday morning before the actual exercise on Sunday afternoon.

This weekend was of particular interest to HIFR as Hornby Island falls entirely into the wildland urban interface zone and we are at least 2 hours away from any outside help. If there was ever a wildland fire on Hornby, the fire department would be on our own in managing property protection for quite a while.

It was a very well run course and the exercise itself provided much additional insight into how to better protect the Hornby residents and their property from wildland fires.  Thanks to Niels Holbek, Chief of Oyster River Fire Rescue for his invitation and his hospitality.

Cadet Camp Grads Extinguish Fire


On Sunday, March 6 at 1800 we received a general page for a fire on Little Trib beach. We arrived to find a soggy and barely smoldering fire all but extinguished. Further investigation revealed that the bonfire had extended to the dead grasses at the head of the beach, but that had also been extinguished.

As it turns out, a large fire had been left unattended at the head of the beach and in front of a local residence. Soledad and Breanna, two of our recent Cadet Camp graduates came across the fire on their way home and immediately realized the hazard. While one of them found a bucket the other called an adult and initiated a fire department response. Using skills that they learned in Cadet Camp, they safely and successfully knocked down the 1.5 -2 meter flames before the fire could extend to the brush between the beach and the houses.

HIFR would like to thank Breanna and Soledad for their sharp thinking and quick action in helping us deal with a potentially dangerous situation.

Rookie Becomes Firefighter

We are proud to announce that Ian “Embers” Emberton has graduated from rookie to a full fledged firefighter. After putting in two years of training, practices, and public service since joining our department, Embers embarked on the daunting 3-evening task of challenging the firefighter exam.

The exam consists of 2 evenings of practical evaluations including portable pump operation, search and rescue scenarios, fire extinguisher proficiency, smoke ventilation, and proving that he can find and operate pretty much every piece of equipment in the fire hall or on the trucks. A third night is then spent writing an in-house exam dealing with Hornby Island specific items like water tank capacities, pump outputs, and our operational procedures.

Embers has shown an incredible amount of dedication to the department by coming to all call-outs and never missing a practice when he is on island. He adds much to the culture of the department and is quick to volunteer for department tasks.

Congratulations, Ian. We’re all proud to have you.

Bad Roads Postpone Depot Scenario

Our training tells us that fire ground is a dynamic place. Conditions change so we adjust our tactics to suit. Road conditions on Thurday night’s practice enforced that by having us scrambling to adjust our plans.

Initially we were to do a structural fire scenario at the recycling depot. At the time of practice the road to the depot still hadn’t been plowed. Although we could have safely gotten the trucks up the hill, we were concerned about getting them back down. In the event of an actual fire we would have gone, but it seemed unwise to risk close to a million dollars worth of equipment for the sake of a practice.

The firehall benefited from this change as we put the firefighters to work taking care of the chores that had been stacking up lately. We were able to make it an early night and will return to tackle the depot scenario another day.

Car Fire Practice

Patrick works the nozzle on the initial attack

We don’t get very many car fires here on Hornby. In fact there hasn’t been one since I joined the department. Despite their infrequent occurance, extinguishing them safely is a skill that we like to keep up on. To that end we have constructed a prop which is a stripped minivan that we can pack full of wooden pallets and set on fire.

Newer cars present many challenges for fire suppression:

  • Bumper struts can explode shooting a bumper into a firefighter’s knees.
  • Air bags can explode with shrapnel.
  • Hatchback struts can explode and shoot a metal rod like a crossbow bolt.
  • Newer cars have plastic fuel tanks which can drop off of the car and melt releasing gasoline onto the ground.

The team moves in under protection of a wide fog to kill the fire
Working in teams of three, firefighters approach the vehicle from the side or corner dumping as much cooling water onto the flames and under the car as possible. When they get close they open the nozzle pattern to a fog to protect them from the heat of the fire. Once at the car, the nozzle pattern gets narrowed again to fit through the window and extinguish the fire.