The Chief Speaks: 

Fire insurance rates could be going up over shortage of volunteer firefighters
By Global News (Jan.14, 2014)
A shortage of volunteer firefighters could send insurance rates soaring for dozens of homeowners in Sooke on Vancouver Island.
The district has been given one year to beef up recruits or many will see their insurance rates double.
Over the past few years, recruits have been hard to come by, especially when it comes to daytime availability.
Because it’s one component of a formula used to establish fire insurance grades, the result could be a rate increase of an average of $1400 a year for people in Sooke.
But it is a problem across the province.
According to a new fire underwriter’s survey, dozens of communities don’t meet the minimum requirements.
The municipality of Sooke is launching a task-force in an effort to address the issue already sending out notices to warn home owners of the potential increase, but it will all depend on the insurance company.
There is a grace period set to expire in October of this year. If the numbers don’t come up before then, higher rates may not be the only concern.
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From the chief:
I have been fielding calls about this problem affecting the rates at Hemlock Valley.
Yes we are in the same situation as all the other volunteer departments in B.C. as well as across Canada.
Hemlock Valley also has a unique situation that it has a very limited number of full time residents who are members of the department and are available during the daytime hours throughout the weekdays and the off season weekends. The majority of Hemlock fire department members are weekenders.
Because of the limited number of members available on a consistent basis our fire service area is designated as unprotected by many insurance companies.
Sooke is classified as protected at this time.
We will just have to wait and see what comes about with the rates next year but expect an increase. 

 

Are you ready for storm season?

                                                                                 Information from Hydro

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2014 Calls to date:

1- Medical Incident

1-Chimney Fire

1-Structure Fire (Condo B)


2013/2014 SEASON

We are now approching the 28th year for the Fire Department.
Call-outs for last ski season (2013), None.
What a season! Not one call, Structure Fire, Vehicle Fire, Chimney Fire or Medical call.
What can I say? Everyone behaved themselves and as the department Chief I would like to give you all a pat on the back and a hearty thank-you for being so safe.
Going into the 2014 season the members of the department would like to remind you all how important it is to have your wood burning appliance chimneys cleaned. (see below)
All sorts of different things can become inserted or lodged into a chimney during the times of non use and burning wet wood and or garbage, plastic wrappers, foam egg cartons etc., can cause rapid build up of creosote and other flammable deposits.
Be safe, the expense of having the chimney cleaned professionally is a lot less than having to clean up if the fire department has to dump gallons of water down your chimney to extinguish a fire.
Puts a real damper on the weekend, no pun intended.

To prevent chimney fires and possible structural damage to your property,

please ensure your chimney is cleaned at least as often as listed below.

These recommendations are for a primary residence, seaonal residences should be done at least once per year.

If large quantities of creosote and soot are found when cleaning, increase the number of cleanings per year.

SOLID FUEL APPLIANCES:
Once per year for smokeless fuel and twice per year for coal


WOOD BURNING APPLIANCES:
Quarterly when in use

 GAS APPLIANCES:
Once per year if designed for sweeping          


OIL FIRED APPLIANCES:
Once per year


 It is not sufficient to clean a chimney using a vacuum cleaner alone.

Ensure your chimney flue is inspected at regular intervals to prevent fire breaking out of the chimney.

Sparkguards can prevent a serious property fire.

 If you haven't already done so, FIT A SMOKE ALARM - it could SAVE YOUR LIFE !


In the event of a chimney fire occurring Dial 9 1 1, clearly give your address and the problem and exit the building.

NOTE: It is best to evacuate the building and call from a neighbours.

If you have a conventional open fire, extinguish the fire by gently splashing water onto the fire, don't dump a large quantity of water on the fire, the idea is to create steam that will flow up the chimney and reduce the temperature. Dumping a pot of water on the fire will just put out the fire and not create the steam required. Good idea to wear oven mitts when performing this function to protect your hands and wrists from steam burns. Eye protection is a must.

If you have a solid fuel appliance, close down the ventilation as much as possible. Closing down the ventilation cuts off the oxygen required for the fire in the chimney to burn.

Move furniture & rugs away from the fireplace and remove any nearby ornaments. Blow back is alway a possibility.

Place a sparkguard in front of the fire. Stops material from the fire box blowing out into the room in the event of a blow back.

Feel the chimney breast in other rooms for signs of heat. (The Fire Department will do this).

If a wall is becoming hot, move furniture away. If you experience this before the Fire Department arrives let the first firefighter you see know about it and the location.

Ensure that access to your attic or roof space is available for the Fire Service as they will want to thoroughly check this area for signs of possible fire spread. Chimney fires can spread to the rest of your property. Many of the chimney fires are close to the top of the chimney so the mortor and bricks or the steel chimney joints may be compromised in the attic areas.

REMEMBER ALWAYS call the Fire Department first if you have a chimney fire.

Calling a friend, neighbour or relative first delays the response time of the Fire Department and those may be the critical moments that save the structure.

                  Dailing  9-1-1  is the fastest way to get the Fire Department there.

We would rather you called and we find nothing than you call late and all we can save is the foundations. 
 For Your Own Safety Have it Swept
                       
                                         Obvious signs of a chimney fire
Other signs may be large amounts of sparks exiting the chimney or an almost invisible blue flame much like a propane torch.

Chimney Spark Arrestors

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CO (Carbon Monoxide)Safety Tips 

Safe Portable Generator Operation 

 

New B.C Smoke Alarm Law in effect May 1st, 2010

Changes to the BC Fire Code require that every private home and hotel or motel room built

 before 1979 must have smoke alarms installed by May 1, 2010. Owners of these older buildings

 can install battery-operated smoke alarms, rather than connecting smoke alarms to the buildings’

electrical system.

Battery-operated smoke alarms are an affordable way to improve safety.

Every year, approximately 2,600 North Americans die in home fires.

Over half of these deaths (52%) occur between the hours

of 10:00pm and 7:00am, when residents are typically sleeping.

Smoke and toxic gases from a home fire are as deadly as

heat and flames.

Just two or three breaths of toxic smoke can render you unconscious.

In addition, smoke obscures vision, decreasing your ability to escape.

Smoke alarms save lives, prevent injuries, and minimize property damage

by detecting fires early and alerting residents, allowing crucial time to escape.

The risk of dying from a fire in a home without working

smoke alarms is twice as high as in a home with working smoke alarms.

Quide to placement of Smoke Alarms

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New B.C. Campfire Regulations

Campfire Regulations              FAQ's

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Storage of Household Hazardous Materials

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Battery Recycling and Smoke/CO2 Alarm Recycling

 

The Hemlock Fire Department is now participating in the call2recycle program

If you have any old cell phones, regular batteries, recylable batteries, old smoke alarms

or old CO2 alarms they can be dropped off  at the fire hall and they will be recycled properly.

All types of batteries are now being accepted not just the rechargable type.

Place them in a clear plastic bag and leave them by the front entrance

door in the breezeway at the fire hall.

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 ATV's and Motorcycles/Dirt Bikes

Please used caution when operating a motorized vehicle offroad

in the Hemlock Valley area.

ATV caused Forest Fires

This notice applies to all forested areas

Work Safe BC ATV Information

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