Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2019 March

Response Report: Salt Spring Island Firefighters responded to 49 calls for assistance in March.  From January to March 2019, SSIFR has responded to 72 Fire Incidents, 71 Medical Incidents, 13 Rescues, and 10 calls for Assistance (Total 166 Calls)


This month firefighters attended our first of the year brush fires.  Two fast moving brush fires were a direct result of backyard burning that escaped into dry combustible material.  Burning is still permitted on Salt Spring Island but we urge residents to ensure they meet the minimum requirements outlined in the Burning Regulations (Open Burning Bylaw No.125)


SSIFR Firefighters responded to report of “Smoke in a Residential Structure” on March 24th in the south end of Salt Spring Island on Bay Ridge Place.  Due to the fast response of the local alarm company the fire was contained to the area of origin resulting in minimal property damage.  The Alarm Companies responder (also a former SSIFR Firefighter) quick actions resulted in saving the property from extensive loss.  The fire was investigated and determined the fire resulted from organic combustion of oil rags.  Fires resulting from improper storage of oil rags is a frequent cause of structure fires on Salt Spring Island. Oily and solvent-wet rags can combust without a heat source.  It is best to store them in a tightly-sealed metal container or hang them outside to dry in a shady location away from structures and then discard them.

March 31st, Firefighters responded to a fast-moving brush fire (estimated ¼ acres in size) on Hillgrove Road.  The incident was quickly under control using 4000 gallons of water.

On the same day Sunday March 31st, SSIFR Firefighters responded to a structure fire on Price Road.  Due to the quick actions of the Firefighters, the fire was contained to the crawl space only.  The fire was investigated and determined that a broken water pipe in the crawl space caused an electrical short circuit, resulting in an electrical fire.  No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported.

Wildfire 2019 Readiness

With an early start to the wildfire season not only locally but Provincially we have initiated our wildfire readiness with training and equipment preparation.  We have also officially registered our reserve Tender (RT2) with the Province if it is requested for a third straight summer.  Our newly outfitted Fire Sprinkler Unit (SPU) is response ready to be deployed locally for structural sprinkler protection if needed this summer.  The Province received a 58% funding increase this year to $101 million for wildfire response and prevention.  The funding will help with increased staffing and equipment, new partnerships with First Nations and the Forest Industry while broadening the reach with the FireSmart program.


Our organization is built around dedicated community members who day after day are response ready and continually improving to better serve our island.  Our Recruit class of 2019 reached a new milestone this month receiving their fire pagers.  They are now able to respond in a limited capacity until their basic training is complete.


Over 1200 Hours of Training was conducted this past month covering Medical A.E.D use, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), Pump Operations, Thermal Camera use, Hose Handling, Rescue Boat Operations, Fire Behaviour, Scribe Note Taking, Auto Extrication, High Angle Rope Rescue and Critical Incident Stress Management.

We also hosted an Airbrakes course on-island for our junior members working towards becoming fire truck Driver / Operators.  Airbrakes is one of the first steps to becoming a SSIFR qualified driver.

Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue partnered with the Gulf Islands School District 64 and Pender Island Fire Rescue to host the Gulf Islands Cadet Camp on Pender Island.  The Making of Heroes Camp gave 25 Grade 11-12 students a week long rigorous look at what being a firefighter is all about.  The Cadets were composed of 13 boys and 12 girls (12 GISS Students).  Several of our SSIFR instructors attended the week long boot camp sharing their knowledge and passion for the fire service.  The cadets gained new knowledge on how to fight structure fires, auto extrication, high angle rope rescue, search and rescue and medical responses.  Several of the previous camp attendees have gone on to become volunteer firefighters and some have chosen it as a career.  I am proud to report several of our current Paid on Call and career members are Gulf Island Fire Cadet Camp alumni.  A job well done by all!

Inspection and Fire and Life Safety Education

Our Fire and Life Safety Educators met with 167 members of the community on several key interests.

- Our Educators conducted two separate station and fire prevention workshops for our local Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.
- Our Fire Educators attended the annual Salt Spring Island Home and Garden Show presenting key information on home safety and wildfire prevention.

Mitigating wildfire risk is a shared responsibility.  Salt Spring Islanders can play a crucial role in mitigating wildfire risks around their homes and properties by using FireSmart principles.  For more information on how you can help FireSmart your property please visit or stop by the Ganges Fire Hall and speak with one of our FireSmart Champions.

Respectfully Submitted

Arjuna George
Fire Chief

April 17, 2019 8:55 AM

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