Downed Power Lines

On January 2nd we attended a motor vehicle incident on Central Road, at Strachan. The driver was OK, but the result was a downed power pole with the primary hydro line down across the road.

Upon arriving at the scene that day, one of our senior officers saw what he would expect to see on Hornby. Neighbours helping out someone in need, without thinking twice. However, what these helpful people didn’t realize was the severity of the potentially dangerous situation that they were putting themselves in.

Primary voltage lines from hydro poles can kill people dead. Really dead, full stop. And if a person were to manage to survive the high voltage shock, the results aren’t much more appealing, with life altering injuries such as lost limbs or third-degree burns.

We had a training course from senior BC Hydro personnel as a part of overall HIFR training last year and we learned just how dangerous hydro can be. It only takes a very small amount electricity to kill in various situations so the 14,400 volts on the top of our poles is not to be trifled with. Many people will think, “well I saw the line on the ground and it was obviously dead, as there were no sparks”. Or some people with a little more experience may say to themselves that the fuse must have blown and so the line is dead. Or perhaps they think because there is no power at the houses down the line, certainly it must be dead.

However, this just isn’t so. BC Hydro can try and re-energize the line at any time from a remote location. This can happen without warning. Another hazard is private generators that might be improperly hooked up to a house’s breaker panel and not be isolated from the hydro lines. The power from a house can travel back up a home owner’s lines and then through a transformer and become 14,400 volts all over again. BC Hydro crews have told me they live in fear of this and treat every line on the ground as though it were live and deadly. Phone lines, ground wires and the old cable TV system are also all to be avoided as they can cross a live primary line and carry deadly voltage too.

For members of the fire department the worst of it is we can’t help someone if they get themselves into a situation. We must stay ten meters back from hydro lines and we must protect ourselves from danger at all costs. We need to live to help another day.

Please protect yourself. If a line is down, treat it as though it can kill, because it just might. NEVER get closer than 10 meters from any downed wire. If you’re in your car, stay in your car as that’s the safest place for you. You just can’t assume that it’s safe to get anywhere near a downed wire.

As BC Hydro says on their website…..DOWN EQUALS DANGER.

–Rob Lewis

Polar Bear Swim 2018

photo: John Struthers

HIFR is once again pleased to be a part of the 2018 edition of the Hornby Island Polar Bear Swim. We’ll be there with First Responders, an ambulance, a fire truck, a big bonfire, hot dogs, and Jules’ hot chai. All you need to bring is a towel to dry off after the swim and a mug if you want chai.

The countdown will start ten seconds before noon on New Year’s Day at Grassy Point Beach. Check back here on Monday morning for confirmation of the location as we may have to move it if a northwest wind picks up.

The weather looks fantastic with overcast conditions and four degrees. The tide will be at 3.5m which doesn’t leave us a lot of beach but just enough for a long and skinny fire.

Thanks to the Co-op Gas Bar for their generous donation of paper cups, but don’t rely on that…. Bring a mug and save the planet.

HIFR Awards

At this year’s Christmas Party, the first in our new fire hall, we gave out some awards.

Iain Palmer received his 30 year service bar to fasten to his 25 year medal. The award comes with a certificate signed by the Governor General of Canada. While accepting his award Iain described what the old fire hall was like when he joined. At that point it consisted of only the radio room and the first two truck bays. All of the 15 members would be huddled around the room, crammed into corners for their meetings. Many thanks to Iain for his many years of service to the Hornby Island community.

Each year we give out an award to those members who attend 50 or more calls in a year. This year is our biggest year to date and six members got (or will get) awards this year:

  • Doug Chinnery with 122 calls
  • John Heinegg with 82 calls
  • Quana Parker with 73 calls
  • Paula Courteau with 55 calls
  • Rob Lewis with 52 calls
  • Ian Emberton with 51 calls

Since the Christmas party we did a call at midnight on Christmas Eve and another one on Christmas morning. Ian Emberton attended both of those calls and as a result was a late entry into the “Club of 50”.

Thank you to all members of HIFR and the families who support us and tolerate our late night and Christmas day calls. Thanks, also for the immense amount of love and support that we receive from the community. It’s why we do it.

Merry Christmas to all!

We have moved!

It has been 20 years since the HIFR and the community first began talks about renewing the fire hall, five years since we settled on the rebuild plan, and almost two years since the ground was broken for the the new building.  Last week all of the deficiencies were fixed and we started the move across the street.

The trucks and the bunker gear were the first items moved, followed by the kitchen, living space furniture, and first aid supplies. At that point we began responding to the new fire hall for all calls.

The following week we moved the work bench, air cylinder fill station, and laundry facilities. There is still the contents of the storage shed, a few boxes of ancient files, some books, and miscellaneous items to move over. That will all happen over the next few weeks.

Everyone has worked hard to make this move happen but Rob Zielinski and Ian Emberton have put in an incredible amount of time to get all of our systems up and running. Without their dedication we would still be weeks away from where we are now.


Here is the latest official update with help from the communications folks at the CVRD. Click on the image for an easier to read PDF.

High School Search and Rescue Camp on Hornby Island

This is an excellent opportunity for High School aged young adults to get a tonne of great training without having to leave the island. They’ll come out of it with a Search and Rescue Certification from the Justice Institute, a St John’s Ambulance First Aid certificate, and six high school credits.

Registration opens for high school search-and-rescue training academy


Hornby Island Fire Rescue is thrilled to present Halloween fireworks on Tues, October 31 at 8PM sharp. The show will be at Outer Island Farm on the corner of DePape and Porpoise.

The best place to see the show will be at the water tank on DePape road. Please avoid driving on DePape between Porpoise and Jerow as there will be many people and kids in costume milling about. There is lots of parking at the side of the road on Porpoise and Seawright.

Big thanks to Jed and Karen Young and Jim and Pauline Garton for offering the use of their field for the display.

Practice near Co-Op tonight

Just a heads up that we will practicing our fire plan at Elder Housing tonight (Thurs, Oct 19). We will be connecting to the Co-Op water tanks via the standpipe near the Gas Bar entrance and will have hose lines laid across the road. The road won’t be closed but there will be someone to help cars safely cross our hose lines.

We will be there from 7:45PM to about 9:00PM. Please be extra careful around that intersection. It may be dark and rainy and there will be several fire fighters working on or beside the road.