Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 2018 February

Response Report - Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue responded to 38 incidents in February, 2018. These included three structure fires (two chimney and one smoke in structure), 20 medical emergencies, two motor vehicle incidents, two BC Hydro incidents - one line down and one tree on fire, two calls for assistance, two commercial and two residential alarms, four open burn incidents, and one false alarm. On February 1, a local hero was awarded the Vital Link medal from BC Ambulance Service for administering life-saving CPR on her husband. Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue was first on the scene, providing continued support until the arrival of BC Ambulance. We are happy to report that, through the efforts of his wife, our firefighting team, paramedics, and the hospital staff, he is doing well! Membership This past month, Dan Olson resigned. Dan served on Sat Spring Fire Rescue team from 2008-2013 as a Paid on Call Firefighter, then rejoined the department in 2017 as a Fiel…
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An Invitation to Serve Your Community

Election time for the Fire Board is upon us, and I would like to invite you to consider serving your com-munity as a Trustee. The Board generally meets once a month. Trustees also staff the various standing committees along with members of the public. The term of office is three years. The roles of trustees are: to represent their community, to be stewards of the improvement district, to make policy, and to enact by-laws There are four requirements: 1. You must be a Canadian citizen. 2. You must be 18 years of age or older. 3. You must be a registered voter. 4. You must be a property owner within the improvement district. To give you an overview of the responsibilities of Fire Trustees, this excerpt from the Improvement Dis-trict Trustee’s Handbook may be helpful: There is an expectation of improvement district trustees that they will make informed, transparent deci-sions. However, when a person is elected to be an improvement district trustee, it does not …
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Fire News: Special Town Hall in Review

As you may have missed the Fire Trustees’s special Town Hall designed to initiate a series of conversations with the community, you may find a summary of this event interesting. . . . A New Firehall?: At 7:00 p.m., after Chair Per Svendsen welcomed everyone and introductions were made, a member of the public asked for an update concerning a new firehall. An engaged and interesting discussion ensued, and the majority of the evening was spent exploring opinions about a new firehall. Per confirmed that a two-acre property on Brinkworthy Road had been donated to the Salt Spring Fire Protection District and would likely be the proposed location for the new firehall. He said that members of the Facilities and Physical Plant Committee, as well as some other Trustees, had recently toured three halls on Vancouver Island and are planning to visit more in March. There was a great deal of discussion about the possibility of a building that would integrate services in addition to …
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Fire News: Chief’s Response Report - 2018 January

Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue responded to 47 Incidents in January 2018. They were: 13 BC Hydro incidents - 2 fires, 6 lines down, and 5 trees on fire; 11 medical responses; 7 requests for assistance; 3 structure fires - 1 commercial and 2 chimney; 3 motor vehicle incidents; 5 alarm bells (4 commercial); 1 hazmat incident; 3 open burns; and 1 elevator rescue. Operations Alert In the early hours of January 23,,our region was notified of a possible tsunami as a result of the large 8.0 magnitude earthquake off Alaska. Both the Salt Spring Island Emergency Program and SSIFR were were on high alert and readiness, but no action was required. It was quickly confirmed that the Gulf Islands were not affected, and there was minimal risk to our region. To further prepare for any future incidents, SSIFR will be working with our local emergency program to revisit our response plan and to ensure that Salt Springers are aware of this plan. I would like to thank the Board of Tru…
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Fire News: People Profile - Rollie Cook

When did you come to Salt Spring and what brought you here? My partner and I bought a farm on Bullock Lake about 15 years ago. We fell in love with the landscape here - the coastal rain forest is quite amazing. The island has a great cultural and food scene. Why did you decide to become a Fire Trustee? Our Fire Board has had difficulty in addressing important issues like a new firehall and balancing costs with public safety. It’s a hard balance to find. We need some common sense and a drive to get basic things done. I think my experience in life gives me some of that. What do you hope to accomplish as a Fire Trustee? I would like to has us finally build a new firehall. We can see the main risks we have here are wildfires in BC and a possible earthquake. We need to give our Fire rescue team the resources they need to protect public safety. Previous proposals may have been a bit too ambitious. We need to find a practical proposal we can afford. It’s do able! We can…
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Fire News: People Profile - Howard Holzapfel

When did you come to Salt Spring? And, what bought you here? We wanted to simplify our life, and we fell in love with this island. We had planned to stay for one year, and we are now beginning our ninth year here. One of the main reasons my wife and I had chosen Salt Spring was because of the hospital, high school, and full service fire department. I never anticipated relying on that department so soon: Within a few weeks of our arrival, we had an emergency with our young son and then, a week later, with our young daughter. The firefighters who responded were wonderful and assuaged my fear of living on an island with their timeliness, knowledge, and compassion. This experience reinforced the wisdom of our decision to make Salt Spring our home. This bittersweet personal experience motivated me to give back to the community by joining the fire department. In 2012, I became a Field Incident Technician. Why did you decide to become a Fire Trustee? I have spent my ent…
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FireSmart Landscaping Choices

Did you know that the landscaping choices you make can improve your home’s chances of with-standing a wildfire? Before then, would you like to test your FireSmart knowledge?             Ground covers - Which three are fire resistant and drought tolerant? Buttercup Dianthus English Ivy Periwinkle Phlox Sedum Perennials - Which three are fire resistant and drought tolerant? Bearded Iris Daisies Foxglove Geranium Hydrangea Lupine DR Shrubs - Which three are fire resistant and drought tolerant? Boxwood Fuchsia (dieback) Lilac Pyracantha Piers Salal Trees - Which three are fire resistant and drought tolerant? Cedar Dogwood Garry Oak Magnolia Maple Prunus cherry Interested in learning more? I will be at the popular Seedy Saturday on February 10th at the Farmers’ Institute at 10:30 a.m. to give you the information you need to make those right choices. See yo…
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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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