Fire News: Grants for Improvement Districts?

During the incorporation debate, one of the most significant liabilities of improvement districts was their inability to compete for federal and provincial grants. Many do not know that this is due to a British Columbia provincial policy and that some other provinces allow their improvement districts to compete for these grants. Last month, Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Adam Olsen visited our Fire department, as well as the North Salt Spring Water Improvement District. Attended by three Trustees as well as CAO Andrew Peat and Chief Arjuna George, all participated in a creative and cordial conversation about the possibility of a needed-policy change to allow access to grants. On October 17, 2017, the Fire Improvement District had written a letter to Adam asserting the unfairness that, although Salt Spring’s residents pay provincial taxes to support infrastructure needs of others, its improvement districts have no access to these funds. Spurred, also, by a Novemb…
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Fire News: Chief's Response Report - 2017 December

SSIFR responded to 63 Incidents for the month of December. The final statistics for 2017 ended the year with 701 calls for assistance, making 2017 the district’s 3rd busiest year in Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue history. Operations Update SSIFR finished off the year with a response-heavy December due to an increase in weather related events (snow and ice). One Dec 19th Firefighters responded to a hectic 24 incidents in 24 hours. Responders attended 21 Hydro-related incidents in December; three resulting in fires, 13 with lines down, and five with trees on power lines. Electrical emergencies are common during storm season and extreme caution should be taken around downed power lines. We also experienced an increase in structure related events with a total of 25 in 2017. Fire Permits expire December 31st, 2017. Fire permits are available January 1st 2018 in person at the Ganges Fire Hall or online at www.saltspringfire.com Fire permits are valid for one year and a…
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Fire News: People Profile - Fire Trustees Howard Baker

When did you come to Salt Spring? And, what bought you here? My wife and I purchased our offshore sailboat in Brentwood Bay in November of 1999. Sailing around the Salish Sea the following summer, the Farmers Market in Ganges was high on our list of places to visit. Anchoring in the harbor, we rowed our dinghy into the Coast Guard dock and were charmed by Salt Spring. Like many who have visited Salt Spring, we decided to move here permanently. We arrived in 2005 and spent that summer building a studio on property that we had purchased three years earlier. I spent much of the next ten years completing that studio and then building a larger home on this same property. My wife joked that, for many of those years, I was under house arrest. And, often, it felt that way. We got our Final Occupancy Permit, and I became a Canadian citizen several summers ago. Finally, I was free to become involved in some challenging issues facing Salt Spring. Why did you decide to become a Fi…
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Fire News: Chief’s November Incident Report

Salt Spring Island Fire-Rescue (SSIFR) responded to 45 calls in November 2017 making a total of 642 incidents this year. Firefighter responses this month included seven for assistance, 27 for medical emergencies, three for motor vehicle incidents, two for open burns, two for residential fires, and one for a vehicle fire. On November 4, SSIFR responded to an early morning structure fire on Park Drive. With working smoke alarms and alert occupants, the fire was quickly detected and 911 alerted. Beginning in the chimney, the fire was quickly contained to the interior. Thirteen Firefighters, assisted by British Columbia Ambulance Services, Emergency Social Services, and BC Hydro, spent six hours controlling the fire. On November 12, SSIFR responded to another structure fire, this time on Isabella Point Road. This fire started in discarded fireplace ash. Improperly stored ash is the culprit in many home fires each year. To avoid this hazard, store ash in a non-combustible cont…
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Fire News: Arjuna (A. J.) George’s One Year Anniversary as Chief

On the first anniversary of becoming Salt Spring Island Fire-Rescue’s eighth Fire Chief, Arjuna George graciously agreed to share some of his story with me. Our Island-raised Chief envisioned a future in customer service in the restaurant industry, hoping to someday become a chef with his own restaurant. When he became a volunteer firefighter in 1997, he caught the firefighting bug. Although working full-time at Thrifty’s, welcoming his newborn daughter, and helping care for his one-year old son, he spent every spare moment learning everything about firefighting. Never intending to make firefighting a career, he simply wanted to learn and practice all he could to prepare for the emergency situations that awaited him. Dreams of becoming a chef were put aside four years later when he became a full-time firefighter. From there, he progressed quickly through the ranks to Captain and Assistant Chief until 2009 when he entered management as Deputy Chief. He sees his strength…
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Fire News: Current Fire Board Making Real Progress

Some weeks have passed since Salt Spring’s divisive referendum and it’s reassuring to see our community again moving forward rather than circling its wagons before firing inward. The Library, the Rainbow Road Pool, ArtSpring, our Conservancy, Salt Spring Literacy and many other local organizations continue to meet various needs. Efforts are again underway to improve health care on our Island and the Salt Spring Foundation is becoming an increasingly positive force. Some progress is even being made, finally, in dealing with our community’s social housing crisis. And all of this is happening as residents from both the “Yes” and the ”No” referendum camps have begun meeting to explore areas of cooperation rather than of conflict. We can also add to this constructive picture the fact that the current Fire Board is also proceeding in both a socially responsible and cost conscious manner. I am not on the current Fire Board nor have I ever served on any previous Board. However, I ha…
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Fire News: I’ll Bet You Did Not Know. . . .

I thought that I knew quite a bit about what was happening on Salt Spring. Was I ever wrong! I had absolutely no idea of all the interesting training initiatives the Salt Spring Island Fire-Rescue (SSIFR) team is offering to keep our community safe. Worried about fire protection at home? SSIFR can help you with your carbon monoxide sensors and smoke detectors so that you - and they – can sleep better at night. How confident are you about being able to effectively use a fire extinguisher? (Be honest - how many of us have actually ever practiced this important skill?) That training is also being offered. Did you know that SSIFR regularly visits neighbourhood gatherings and community groups to discuss FireSmart landscaping and garden-wise alternatives to burning? You are encouraged to invite its fire-safety educators to your event. And have you ever wondered how a building you frequent would be evacuated in case of fire? The SSIFR has already offered evacuation training t…
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Fire Rescue News - Chief's Fire and Emergency Incident Report

Firefighters responded to 44 incidents this month, making a total of 592 incidents for this year. October 4: SSIFR Firefighters responded a nine-hour call comprised of four incidents - a medical call, a commercial fire alarm, a structure fire, and a vehicle fire on Sarah Way. The structure fire on Devine Road was a small kitchen fire that was quickly suppressed, but the vehicle fire on Sarah Way soon spread to become a structure fire as well. Firefighting crews did an amazing job putting a stop to this fast-growing fire and were able to salvage cherished keepsakes and family heirlooms. October 8: Crews were called to a structure fire on Trincomali Drive. A commercial garden greenhouse was burning, and the fire was quickly spreading. Firefighters were able to minimize its spread, limiting damage to other buildings and the property. October 25 Although not an emergency incident, SSIFR participated in the largest maritime training scenario in Canadian history with over on…
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FireSmart Tip of the Week: Chimney Safety

How Safe is Your Lovely Roaring Fire? - Did you know that chimney fires are the most common fire emergencies this time of the year? In partnership with the Salt Spring Conservancy, SSIFR will offer a free workshop: Burn it Right” at the Library on Sunday, December 10 from 3:00 - 4:30 so that you can learn everything you need to know about using your wood stove safely and efficiently. Interested in learning more right now? Each year, our Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue (SSIFR) is called to between 7 and 15 chimney fires. As these fires can easily spread, already having destroyed too many homes on Salt Spring, it is simply FireSmart to take steps to prevent them 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 chimn…
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