Fire season starts after busiest weekend ever for Fire Department

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, April 7 2015

This past Tuesday, March 31, the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District held what is likely to be its final regular meeting ahead of the April 22 Annual General Meeting and Trustee Election.

During his report to the Board, Fire Chief Rick Jackson said the weekend of March 28-29 was the busiest on record for the department for call volume, with 10 calls varying from medical response to the car fire on March 29.

He noted that April 1 is the start of fire season for the Gabriola Fire District. Any fires over one metre by one metre in size require a permit from the fire chief’s office. 

Beach fires are not permitted during fire season without written permission from the fire chief’s office; this includes the tidal area out 100m from the shoreline.

A full listing of the fire season regulations is printed in the back of the Gabriola Directory. It is also posted on the fire department’s website at gabriolafire.ca.

Jackson noted the fire department’s Fire Hall #1 will be the site of the April 25/26 Mental Health First Aid course being offered to Gabriola emergency responders and other community members.

He also reported on the snow guards which are being added to the fire hall to prevent snow from crushing the new hall’s cisterns as it did during snow storms in February of 2014. 

The guards arrived on March 31 and will now be installed.

Elections for three trustees this year

The April 22 AGM will see three trustee positions available for election/re-election.

Mark Noyon and Sandra Rudischer’s three-year terms have finished. Both trustees indicated at the March 31 meeting that they were intending to run for re-election.

Trustee Jeremy Baker, who was not at the March 31 meeting, had sent correspondence to the Board stating he was resigning from the Board.

Baker had two years left in his term and as such, a two-year term position is up for election at the AGM.

The options open to the Board were to either hold two separate elections (one for the three-year terms, a second for the two-year term) or to hold a single election and then have a random draw to determine who would be the two-year trustee. The board voted to go with the second option.

New asset tracking policy to be put in place

Trustee Sandra Rudischer explained that the province put in an accounting standards change in 2009 requiring all improvement districts to track and report on tangible capital assets.

The Gabriola fire board will be the second fire improvement district to implement such a policy if the board goes ahead with it this year.

Rudischer said this is to help track the fixed assets allowing the landowners (ratepayers of Gabriola) to see what the capital assets of the department are.

Jackson said the department has always tracked “the trucks and everything valued over $500, but it wasn’t required of us.”

Rudischer said under the current system, “what we’re reporting now is the paid-for value.”

It will also allow the department to amortize a lot of old equipment which under the old system was still on the books.

As the department doesn’t pay taxes, Rudischer said the new policy is about transparency.

“What we’re looking at are tangible capital assets where the cost is $500 or greater before tax. 

“And then also we have to give these assets a life for amortization purposes. As Fire Chief Rick Jackson pointed out, the old system “shows every pager we’ve ever bought in the history of the department as an asset. It’s nutty.”

We just need to adopt this as our tangible capital asset policy. This is a new accounting standard as of 2009 and everyone is supposed to get around to it. So we’re getting around to it.”

Asked about the trucks, Jackson said amortization is set at 20 years, with Truck #11 (the yellow overcab water tender based at Fire Hall #1) coming up on 20 years old.