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.
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.
Effective noon on Wednesday, April 3, backyard burning will require a permit. We will write permits on Wednesdays and Saturdays. You can arrange to get one by calling the fire hall at 250.335.2611 and leaving a message if no one is there to take your call.
Please check the venting index and avoid burning on windy days. The venting index can be reached by clicking on the venting index image on the right.
Please ensure that you have tools such as shovels and water at hand to help manage your fire.
Machine built (category III) burns also require a provincial burn registration number, a machine on site, and a really good water source.
Please keep in mind the air quality problems that we have been seeing in our area and the amount of carbon that is released into the atmosphere when yard waste is burned. Instead, consider composting your yard waste or taking it to The Depot for disposal.
UPDATE: This year’s camp is now full. Any new registrations that we get will be added to the waiting list. Thank you for your interest.
This year’s HIFR Cadet Camp will take place on Thursday, March 21. This is a one day camp for youth aged 10 to 14. They will learn some basic first aid skills, make an actual call to a 911 dispatcher, use a fire hose, learn how to escape a burning building, and put out real fires with a fire extinguisher.
The camp runs from 10 AM until 3:30 PM and lunch is included in the free registration fee. That’s right… the FREE registration fee.
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.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.