2018 Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue - Fire Chief's Report

As Fire Chief of Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue, it is my honour to present the 2018 Annual Fire Chief’s report. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District Board of Trustees and volunteer committee members who dedicated countless hours in 2018 for the betterment of our community and the department. I am exceptionally proud of our men and women that serve in all areas of Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue, they are skilled professionals who are pushed to their physical, mental and emotional limits on a daily basis. We have designed this report to highlight our performance and accomplishments we celebrated over the year. 2018 was an exciting time for our community as your fire department was able to elevate the level of safety, health and economic viability all while responding to a record high call volume. You continue to experience fast and effective responses due to our training and skilled personnel and the community’s o…
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Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue Respond to Early Morning Structure Fire

Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue responded to an early morning structure fire in the 100 blk of Thomas Road. The initial call came in at 04:37 and crews completed the scene at 08:00. 25 Firefighters responded with 19 on scene; 4 fire trucks and 3 support vehicles along with BC Ambulance and BC Hydro. On arrival, Firefighters faced a fully involved detached garage structure fire threatening the main house. Due to the fast response and aggressive attack, the fire was held to the garage only. The garage suffered severe damage with the main home receiving only slight exterior damage. Two occupants were home at the time and were alerted of the fire by their alert and responsive neighbour. If it was not for the attentive neighbour, the result of this fire could have been far worse. No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. A very effective and professional response, led by effective leaders and efficient firefighters!
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Extensive Vandalism to Local CRD Office and Businesses

In the morning of May 12, 2019 the Salt Spring RCMP were notified that a number of the street-front windows in Ganges, including the CRD office on McPhillips Ave had been smashed.  Police attended and their investigation is ongoing.  No entry was gained to the office, and efforts are underway to repair the damage prior to the opening of our office on Monday morning.  At this point, the cost to repair the damage remains unknown. Anyone with information on this crime to contact the Salt Spring RCMP at 250-537-5555, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.      
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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) Operations 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) Incidents 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 Fir…
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New Fire Hall – To Be Or Not To Be?

Salt Spring property owners have had the opportunity to review and vote upon a number of proposals for a replacement of the Ganges Fire Hall. All have been defeated but it’s time to look a little more closely at the reasons for the proposals and the reasons for the defeat. The Ganges Fire Hall has provided service since 1959. Most residents are aware that it was built on landfill, and should the Island suffer a major disaster, such as an earthquake, our Fire Hall, our rescue vehicles, and our personnel would disappear. That in and of itself provides the reason to construct a new Fire Hall at a new location. But there are more reasons. Our existing Hall is quaint, and some say sufficient. I disagree. It cannot house today’s standard “ladder truck” – a needed rescue vehicle. The current Hall was built for small pumper trucks. Limiting our equipment to pumper trucks jeopardizes our safety. We must be able to provide fire safety to any structure needed and approved…
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Fire Board Election Monday April 29, 2019: Risk of Foreign Influence?

Is there a risk that foreign powers will try to influence our 2019 Fire Board Trustee election? The good news is: Absolutely not. Nobody outside of Salt Spring Island really cares how we structure and manage our fire service. But this also shows how uniquely isolated we are as an island. While the Crofton Fire Department can call seven other departments for help, and they will respond within a very short period of time, our fire fighters here must deal with any possible threat scenario with the equipment, manpower and tools that they have at their disposal. The big storm before Christmas was an eye opener for our island. Within less than two hours of the storm hitting, the Island was completely disabled. Many residents lost power and even road access for weeks. While our emergency service and many volunteers were working tirelessly to a point of exhaustion, this storm showed how limited our resources really are when disaster hits. How will it look like if the big ear…
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2019 February

Response Report - Salt Spring Island Firefighters responded to 58 calls for assistance in February, a 52% INCREASE over Feb 2018. Operations As the cold weather hit, so did an increase in chimney fires and Carbon Monoxide calls.  Chimney fires are a leading cause for structure fires on Salt Spring Island.  These fires can readily spread into the roof or structure of a building and have destroyed numerous homes on Salt Spring.  Chimney fires are often first detected by a loud roaring noise. Clouds of black smoke or sparks might be visible from the top of the chimney. In severe cases, flames can extend several feet above the chimney. To prevent chimney fires, focus on these two key ideas: 1) Clean, maintain and inspect your chimney at least once a year. 2) Burn only clean and well-seasoned wood. Membership Our organization sends gratitude to our great firefighters who retired this past month.  Firefighter Colin McDougall joined Salt Spring Island Fire…
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The Making of Heroes: Gulf Islands Fire/Rescue Cadet Camp

Pender Island Fire/Rescue, in association with Salt Spring Island Fire/Rescue and other partners in emergency response including the RCMP and BC Ambulance Service, will be guiding 25 courageous youths through an intense boot camp of hands-on fire/rescue training from March 18 to 23, 2019. Following a record number of applications, this year’s successful cadets (ages 15 to 18) include 13 boys and 12 girls from Salt Spring Island, Pender Island, Galiano Island, as well as the Saanich and Victoria areas of South Vancouver Island. A great way to challenge teens both mentally and physically, the Gulf Islands Fire/Rescue Cadet Camp is endorsed by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs and has grown into one of the most respected camps of its kind in Canada. Totaling over 100 hours of rigorous training, the cadets reach new levels of confidence, self-esteem, courage, and teamwork through hands-on instruction in structure fires, auto extrication, high angle rope rescue, search and …
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2018 December

Incident Report - Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) responded to a record 183 Incidents in December 2018, ending the year with our highest call volume in history of 816 incidents. These incidents included: Fires: 8 Hydro Fires, 1 Chimney Fire, 1 Mobile Home/Trailer Fire, 1 Vehicle Fire, 2 Brush/Grass Fires, 3 Sightings/Smells of Fire, 1 Miscellaneous Fire. Hydro Lines: 72 Hydro Lines Down and 14 Trees on Lines. Assists: , 24 Medical Responses, 4 Assists to BC Ambulance Services, 8 Assists to the General Public, 7 Assists for Miscellaneous Complaints, 4 Public Works Assists, 1 RCMP Assist. 10 Motor Vehicle Incidents (MVI). Alarms: 6 Carbon Dioxide (CO) Alarms, 5 Commercial Alarms. HasMat Events: 3 Propane, 2 Chemical (or Unknown) Spills or Leaks. Open Burns: 5 General Open Burns, 1 Campfire Operations Update: On December 1st, the Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) hosted a Community Information Meeting at the Legion to detail the planned comm…
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2018 November

Response Report - Salt Spring Island Fire rescue (SSIFR) responded to 34 incidents in November totaling 633 incidents from January 1-November 30, 2018. These incidents included: 2 Chimney fires, 8 medical calls, 6 MVI (motor vehicle incidents), 3 Rescues (1 rope/high/confined, 1 elevator, 1 animal), 5 Calls for assistance, 3 Open burns, 2 Beach fires, 1 Tree on lines, 4 Alarm Bells (2 residential, I commercial, and 1 carbon monoxide alarm) Operations Update - Every fall, Mainroads Contracting organizes a meeting with other emergency response agencies to prepare for the winter season. This year, the meeting was held on November 7th, and SSIFR attended, along with other local emergency preparedness agencies. Initial weather forecasts predict a low snow year but potentially heavy rain and wind. On Nov 28th the Alert Ready Emergency Notification system was tested in BC. The Alert Ready system is Canada’s emergency alerting system. Alert Ready delivers critical and potentially…
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Carbon Monoxide (CO) Incident On Island - Do You Have An Alarm?

Do you have a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm installed in your home? - Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue recently attended a carbon monoxide (CO) incident at a home that was too close a call for those exposed. Although it was originally thought to be false alarm, firefighters took reading of the air with a 4 Gas detector and quickly determined high levels of carbon monoxide. The propane furnace was identified as the probable culprit. After thorough ventilation and shutting down the furnace, the air quality improved. Often called the invisible killer, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, and methane) burn. In homes, fuel-burning heating and cooking equipment are potential sources of carbon monoxide. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. What are the symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning? Carbon Monoxide enters the body throu…
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Salt Spring’s Firefighters - Lieutenant Peter Andress

Raised on Salt Spring by a family that supported the community through a variety of volunteer roles, it was only natural for me to follow that same path of volunteerism. In high school, I was a member of the Youth Coast Guard in Mill Bay. I was a member of the local Land Search and Rescue team for 12 years and served as chair for eight of those years. My transition to the the fire service was a natural one. As a Paid on Call (POC) firefighter, I am able to satisfy my need to be a contributing part of the community in which I was raised. This commitment to service has resulted in me also becoming a part of both the rope and water rescue teams in addition to the minimum weekly commitment of a POC. Each of these responsibilities require time, both to train as well as to share what I have learned from past training with my teammates. Becoming an officer was a natural progression, reflecting my time and energy commitments. There are times that my commitment feels like it is no…
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How Safe is Your Lovely Roaring Fire?

Did you know that chimney fires are the most common fire emergencies  this time of the year?  - As our weather cools, and you begin enjoying your roaring fire, there are important safety tips you should know. Each year, Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) is called to between 7 and 15 chimney fires. As these fires can easily spread - having already destroyed too many homes on Salt Spring - why not Burn it Smart to prevent fires in your chimney? The best way to prevent chimney fires is to: Clean, maintain, and inspect your chimney at least once a year Chimney fires are caused by accumulations of creosote, solidified flammable particulates from wood smoke. These deposits can generally be removed by annual cleanings, although chimneys with unusual configurations or extra heavy use may need care more often. When was your chimney last cleaned? Burn only clean and well-seasoned wood Burning wet or unseasoned wood creates additional creosote in your chimney. …
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2018 September

Response Report - SSIFR responded to an above average month with 79 Incidents in September. Alarm Bells - 5, Assistance - 11, Medical - 27, HAZMAT - 2, MVI - 5, Structure Fire - 4, Open Burn - 18, Hydro - 1, Beach Fire - 2, Brush / Grass Fire - 3, Rubbish Fire - 1 Operations Update - After significant rainfall and a reduced fire hazard to Moderate/Low the burning ban that had been in place since July 18th, 2018 was lifted. This month we launched our annual Paid-On-Call Recruit Drive. Firefighters staffed the Fall Fair booth Sept 15-16 promoting the organization and our recruit program. Applications close Oct 31st 2018. Applications can be picked up at the Ganges Fire hall or online at www.saltspringfire.com/recruit September 4th was the close of our Wildfire Deployment for the Northern BC wildfires. For the second year in a row we have deployed SSIFR firefighters and our Reserve Water Tender to assist the Province. Our 2018 deployment spanned from August 15th to Septembe…
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2018 August

Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue August 2018 incidents report. Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) responded to a department record of 108 Incidents for the month of August. These were: 38 calls for assistance, 17 medical emergencies, 1 residential structure fire and 1 suspected residential structure fire , 2 commercial structure fires , 4 MVIs (motor vehicle incidents), 17 brush/grass fires or suspected fires, 10 open burn fires, 3 Hydro fires, 1 boat fire, 3 hazardous material incidents, 2 animal rescues, 1 rope rescue, 5 commercial and 3 residential alarms This month, crews were busy with wildfires, each of them successfully-contained: On August 3, SSIFR responded to our first major wildfire of the season. The fire, in a hard-to- access wooded area on Beaver Point Road, proved to be a challenge. The fire crews were effective in containing the fire. On August 21, SSIFR responded to another south end brush fire, this time on Musgrave Road. Despite drought-like cond…
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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Discuss the Fire District’s Budget Increase

On Monday, October 1, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Lions Hall, Fire Trustees will welcome your questions about a new budgetary direction they are proposing to pursue. Although much in the 2019 budget is the same as previous years, this budget also includes some new reserves, including one to help pay for a new firehall. New expenditures for the proposed budget include $137,350 for an apparatus replacement reserve fund and $300,000 to be placed in reserve for a new firehall. A significant majority of the Trustees believe these increases would be prudent planning. But, Trustees need to hear from you. Do you support raising taxes to set aside funds for future needs and, if so, how much should be placed in reserve? If you come to Lions Hall October 1, you will be given plenty of opportunity to learn more and voice your opinion about the proposed budget. Only after the feedback received at this public meeting is carefully considered, will the Fire Board finalize its 2019 budget. …
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2018 July

Salt Spring Fire Rescue (SSIFR) responded to 71 Incidents for the month of July. Operations Update Due to dry and hot weather, SSIFR declared a full fire ban July 18, in an effort to reduce human-caused fires on the island. Since July 12th Salt Spring Island has maintained a steady “Extreme” Fire danger. Work is underway enhancing the front office at fire hall one in Ganges. The small improvements will create a more welcoming entrance with better access to fire and life safety educational information. Incident Highlights With the dry conditions and low humidity several mulch fires were reported due to improperly discarded smoking materials. A ‘No Tossed Butts’ campaign will launch in August in an effort to bring awareness to improperly discarded butts and the risk they pose for our island. July 14th, Firefighters responded to a two-vehicle motor vehicle incident (MVI) on Long Harbour with extensive vehicle damage and multiple patients. Long Harbour Roa…
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Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue continue wildfire deployment

Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue has been requested to continue our wildfire deployment in northern British Columbia. A replacement crew left August 29th, 2018 to relieve SSIFR Firefighters Taylor and Nuyens. Firefighters Mitchell Sherrin and Jason Gaffney took over starting Aug 30th, 2018. The state of emergency declared August 15th has now been formally extended to Sept 12th, 2018. Recent reports from the BC Wildfire Service now state 2018 as the worst fire season on record with over 1.3 million hectares burnt so far this year. As of August 29th, 2018, 534 wildfires are burning in B.C., with 34 evacuation orders affecting approximately 3,200 people, plus 53 evacuation alerts impacting approximately 21,800 people. I would like to thank both Firefighters Taylor and Nuyens for assisting our neighbours to the north during British Columbia’s worst fire season in history. Our thoughts continue to go out to all the communities affected by this year’s fire season. …
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Salt Spring Fire Fighters 2nd Deployment to Replace Exhausted Local Team

Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue has sent a replacement team to relieve Firefighters Ponsford and Byrne after an exhausting week battling the fires in northern British Columbia. Firefighters Eric Taylor and Warren Nuyens are the second team to deploy from Salt Spring Island. Ponsford and Byrne are on route home for some well-deserved rest. Ponsford and Byrne spent the last few days fighting the Verdun Mountain fire and working night operations with other BC Firefighters and the BC Wildfire Service. “What we saw at the Verdun Mountain Fire was the tip of the iceberg as far as the size of the fire and the destruction and displacement it has caused”. The Verdun Mountain fire is now estimated to be at 31,413 hectares according to the BC Wildfire Service. SSIFR Firefighter Patrick Byrne also expressed his feelings on the experience “the community support for all the fire crews working up here to contain these fires is deeply moving, heartfelt thanks!” Our second deployment start…
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Alert: South End Brush Fire In Progress (Now Under Control)

UPDATE: Crews have secured a perimeter around the fire and are now in the process of extinguishing and hand-digging the fire. There is no threat to structures and no need for any evacuations. The fire is classified as "Under-Control" Salt Spring Fire Department has advised us that there is a brush fire on Musgrave Road (100 feet x 80 feet). At present there is no risk to people or buildings. Isabella, Musgrave and Mt. Tuam PODS have been notified. Crews have responded to a brush fire on Musgrave Rd at 3:25pm. Fire is estimated at 100’ x 80’ beside the road and it is already 50% contained as of 16:15. Please remain away from the area to allow crews to work. Updates will follow when there is more information. (Note: File Photo)
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