Fire Chief report: burn piles, old Fire Hall, and call volume

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, June 12 2019

Gabriola Fire Chief Rick Jackson gave his monthly report on June 5 at the regular meeting of the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District Board - with burn pile issues and the Old Fire Hall#1 roof as topics of discussion.

Jackson said he met with the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) and Ministry of Environment (MOE) officials to further discuss having a burn site on Gabriola.

Currently, the RDN and MOE do not issue permits for materials cleared from one property to be taken to another to be burned or chipped.

Jackson has been advocating for there to be one site on Gabriola for that purpose.

“I showed them some of the issues we’re having due to the lack of one.”

He said for decades, there had been a burn site on Gbariola, and people could take their debris to that one  location. “The RDN decided it didn’t fit their waste stream management model. Now we have contractors burying debris around the island.

“Sometimes the dirt washes off and it resurfaces. 

“In my opinion we need a site so we can burn it, chip it, process it. My belief is it’ll get rid of the smoke complaints we have in the neighbourhoods.”

Part of the issue is Jackson can issue a burn permit - but if the burn site a business, it comes under a different category - and the persons wishing to get a permit to host a burn site have to spend the monies without knowing for sure if they are going to get the permit to actually do the burning.

Old Fire Hall #1

Jackson said an issue needing resolution is what to do with the old Fire Hall #1.

When the new hall was built, the old hall was left standing, and is used for training and other purposes.

Jackson said the roof is, “in a state of disrepair.

“We were hoping to patch it - but it looks like it is beyond patching. We’re coming down to where we patch it, or it gets torn down. 

“I think there is life in it for other purposes, we use it for training. The reason we got out of there is it is not seismically correct. If there’s an earthquake it’ll come down. But there are other purposes for it.”

Fire Trustee John Moeller asked what the cost to fix the roof would be. Jackson said between $40,000 and $50,000 saying, “it’ll cost more than that to tear it down, we use it for training for regular purposes - and there are other potential uses I would discuss in camera. Summer is coming, we should get it done rather than let it deteriorate further.”

The roof of the old Fire Hall #1 is potentially getting fixed to allow firefighters to continue using the building. Derek Kilbourn photo


Call volume down for 2019

Jackson said compared to 2018, the call volume for the department is down. Total call volume for 2019 to the end of May is 164. Total call volume for 2018 for the same time period was 205.

Medical responses by the Fire Department to the end of May are up for 2019 with 113 compared to 109.

The largest differences for year-to-date call volume - according to the Fire Department’s statistics web site - are in Burn Complaints (down 14 from last year); Investigations (down 25 from last year); and Other (down 12 from last year).