In 2019, Campbell River Fire Department experienced a record year for structure fire incidents with a 32 per cent increase over 2018. The City is seeing a marked increase in fires in the south end of the city, which has increased approximately 50 per cent over 2018.
Leading causes of building fires in Campbell River in 2019
• 40 per cent of fires were related to kitchen fires
• 20 per cent of fires caused by heating appliances
• 11.6 per cent of fires caused by electrical
• 10 per cent of fires caused by smoking materials
• 6.6 per cent of fires caused by arson
• 3.3 per cent of fires caused by laundry dryers
• 3 per cent of fires caused by vehicles in garages
• 5.5 per cent various other causes
Firefighters also responded to over 200 motor vehicle accidents in 2019.
Firefighters completed 1,000 building fire inspections for code compliance.
Public Outreach and Fire Prevention Education had 434 Grade 3 children participate in the Fire Safety House Program during Fire Prevention Week in October, 536 participants in fire and life safety talks across the community, over 500 attendees at the annual open house event in May and over 230 participants in fire station/fire truck tours.
The 2019 Fire Chief for a Day was Addison Berrevoets from Sandowne Elementary, she spent the day with firefighters in February touring the fire station, participating in training and had lunch with Mayor Andy Adams and firefighters.
Also in February, firefighters were out supporting Sylas Thompson during his fundraising efforts for two local community groups.
Firefighters hosted MLA Claire Trevena for a tour of the fire station in February and MP Rachel Blaney for a tour in August.
Carihi Leadership program dropped by to visit the on duty firefighters at the No 2 Fire Hall to show their support for the firefighters in January.
Firefighters were challenged to two basketball games in 2019 by the Campbell River Special Olympians, great fun was had by all.
The fire department shows support for a number of great causes by displaying various symbols on the front of the fire truck through out the year.
• February – Anti- Bullying Campaign: Pink Ribbon on front of fire truck & Pink Shirts
• April 28 – Day of Mourning: Orange Ribbon on front of fire truck
• October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink Ribbon on front of fire truck & Pink Shirts
• November – Movember: Mustache on front of fire truck
• November 11 – Remembrance Day: Poppy on front of fire truck
Fire Department Management and Union members build relations by attending the first Fire Leadership Summit in Victoria in March.
The Fire Department held an awards ceremony to recognized long service milestones and to welcome new paid on call firefighter recruits in March. Special guests included Mayor and Council, MP Rachel Blaney, MLA Claire Trevena and Fire Commissioner Gordon Anderson.
Fire Department was busy with various media campaigns to promote fire safety. These included the smoke alarm program: change your clock, change your smoke alarm batteries, seasonal fire safety media releases and fire extinguisher training.
The Fire Dispatch center was busy over the past year. The fire dispatch center which is located at the No 1 Fire Hall provides emergency 911 fire dispatch service to 61 fire departments from central Vancouver Island to the northern tip of the Island (covering approximately 2/3 of Vancouver Island) and the Peace River Regional District (total of seven Regional Districts) and an area covering over 176,000 sq. km. The Dispatch Center processed over 21,000 incidents in 2019 and is staffed by two dispatchers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In May, firefighters and dispatchers participated in McHappy Days, and in June participated in Tim Horton’s Camp Day.
The Fire Department attended three schools during Emergency Preparedness Week in May, teaching students the importance of being prepared in the case of an emergency or evacuation.
The months of April, May and June saw extremely dry and hot conditions with June reaching an extreme fire danger rating. Fire crews responded to one of the larger brush fires in recent years off Argonaut Rd in May. The fire was approximately 3.5 hectares and was brought under control with the combined efforts of Campbell River Fire Department and BC Wildfire.
In June, firefighters spent the Day with Homalco First Nation for a Community Safety Day. The day included a number of safety talks, fire extinguisher training, fire safety house tours for the kids, a community clean up, BBQ and FireSmart activities for the community.
In June firefighters participated in a research program by VIU (Vancouver Island University) for resiliency in volunteer firefighters.
A retired Fire Truck(1986 Mack) that was donated to Firefighters Without Borders reached its new home in Retalhueu, Guatemala and is now in service providing a valuable resource to that community.
2019 saw the retirement of Captain Ken Dawson after over 30 years in the fire service. Cpt. Dawson was also awarded a Certificate of Commendation from Emergency Management BC and the Fire Commissioner for his efforts in saving the life of a Campbell River resident in a house fire nine years ago.
The fire department also participated in the Canada Day celebrations by hosting the firefighters pancake breakfast, the firefighters salmon BBQ and participating in the Kids Festival at the Community Center.
The firefighters also provided a number of community donations throughout the year including $1,000 to the Cedar School Hot Lunch Program, donation to Camryn’s Cause from funds raised at the annual open house BBQ, food donations to the Campbell River Food bank and the Knights of Columbus. Firefighters were also on hand at Bright Nights in Stanley Park to make a $20,000 donation to the BC Burn Fund.
A few other events firefighters do during the year to raise funds for charities are the annual pumpkin smash at Strathcona Gardens, the Christmas Tree Chipping in January at the Sportsplex and the annual Halloween fireworks display.
With increased drying trends over the spring and summer months and the increase in wildfire activity across the Province, the Fire Department has put in service a Sprinkler Protection Unit (SPU) to assist in protecting critical infrastructure and homes in the event of a wildfire.
In May the fire department hosted the Annual Campbell River Mirror Local Hero Awards at the No 1 Fire Hall.
Campbell River Fire Department also sent a representative to Camp Ignite, which is a camp to provide an opportunity for teenage girls to explore the profession of firefighting.
In October, firefighters participated in the Disaster Emergency Preparedness Tradeshow at Thunderbird Hall, where firefighters provided hands on fire extinguisher training to attendees.
CR firefighters battle another structure fire this morning. This one on Henderson Rd. No injuries reported. The cause is considered suspicious and under investigation. pic.twitter.com/WJicXn1BEC
— Campbell River Fire (@RiverCityFire) June 25, 2019
During the 2019-2029 Financial Planning deliberations, Mayor and Council approved the addition of two more firefighters for the No. 2 Fire Hall in the South end of the City. The additional firefighters will provide daytime coverage seven days a week from the No. 2 Fire Hall. The financial plan also has an incremental approach to staffing the No. 2 Fire Hall 24/7 over the next few years.
The fire department has been working hard on acquiring available grant funding to assist in a number of initiatives. To date the department has secured approximately $75,000 in grant funding for number of projects and initiatives.
The fire department is currently in the process of updating the Community Wildfire Protection Plan in collaboration with Strategic Natural Resources. The plan should be completed in early 2020. Additional FireSmart initiatives are in progress and the department is also working on establishing a flood evacuation plan for the community.