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Fifty Years of Firefighting on Salt Spring Island

Bruce Patterson and Chief Tom Bremner

The Salt Spring Island Fire and Rescue Service are celebrating fifty years of service to the residents of Salt Spring Island this year.

Each community on Salt Spring had their own fire plans and these were coordinated into the current model. A series of pictures and reflections will be used to show the evolution of the department from a truly volunteer organization to our modern department using both professional and volunteer firefighters to work in our community.

During the presentation we will hear how the service has changed from only fighting fires but to playing a major role in the communities first responder program and to providing inspection and fire safety programs.

Bruce Patterson and Chief Tom Bremner will outline the years of service the dedicated members have provided over the past 50 years and the unification of the rural departments under a centralized system.

Accession Number Interviewer SSI Historical Society Address
Date March 9, 2011 Location Central Hall
Media Audio CD mp3 √
ID duration




Speaker 1 0:00
On Fire trucks as the assaults require departments created in some of these may vary in people's history and understanding. But that's the research. And it's most interesting to stand here 50 years later to be speaking you from a perspective of where the fire service across Canada, North America has progressed. Of course, back in the first days, it was the full volunteer. Everybody gave and everybody committed and did the things we've moved. Beyond that now. Our volunteer paid on call firefighters do get a stipend or payment for their training and their activities. And the fire service has moved from a fire department primarily to a fire rescue where we do much more than just fire. And that's a huge change. And that's contributed to cultural change, and a TV show and some of you may remember this when you watched it in your youthful years called emergency. The program was about a fire station in LA squad 51. What was most interesting in that my lifetime, I watched that show as a child I was thirsty to death at an abode. So I started inquiring about it. I lived in Nova Scotia, and the producer of that show was named Ron Stewart. He was from Nova Scotia, Cape Breton to be exact. So I inquired to like met him and actually he was my professor for four years at Dalhousie University, learning my profession that I do now in a better way and skills. And he brought me a long ways of where things were going to go and where he was visualizing them to go and how it has gone. So here we are today, we brought some artifacts from the fire hall. And please, if you get chance, take and recognize some of the names of the people that have given so much just like these three gentlemen that are here today to make your island both safe, modern and accountable. Because all those things come into play. The days of the first fire truck the Jeep, Michael, is that correct? The first motorized one that was on here, Chris was right in Fulford has progressed to a very modern piece of equipment that's highly technical. And I must compliment you on the video because if I can wear my hat and helmet the way that lady wears, I figure I'd have a mane with the hair sticking out and everything else. But I just can't make that at this time. So I'm going to not even bother drawing on that one. But again, we hope to have dialogue here with you about questions or answers or comments you feel. And you know what? I really there is no limits here except that I want you to understand the world has changed over 50 years. The culture on the island has progressed and changed in some ways. I want to read you something that was printed that we found online. That was printed in October of 1879. That was from the Firemen's journal. So back then the Americans were influencing 100% And they were printing apparently through the fire services, a magazine called The Firemen's journal. And please appreciate this twang of language. And then I want you to consider something that I will ask you afterwards. It says when a fire was pride and danger is nice. And E IG H Ness died sorry, God and the firefighter is the people's cry. But when the fire is out, and always righted, God has forgotten and the firefighters lighted. Have we progressed very far in some ways since 1879. Yes, we have but in other ways we may have not according to what value you put on and understanding you have to what a service is. And the did it today's world of firefighting and fire safety rescue is about public safety. We go to so few fires now it's totally different than the days when Michael was a full firefighter can was a full fire or Bruce first joined him. You'd have gone too far more grass fires, chimney fires, except for fires etc. Now it's changed immensely. And I would invite you if you want to hear a breakdown on the year of 2010 the annual general meeting of the fire Board of Trustees is April 18. There will be a report where it's given how many calls we've had what they broke down for for 2010 and it's changed immensely. The other biggest thing is besides the equipment is the makeup of the fire service on Saltspring yes a different makeup but most of the country is making up different to and fire service. The personnel that are involved we've gone from many places fully volunteer only to composite fire service which we have on Saltspring paid and volunteer paid on call firefighters were We're here together. And you notice we were turned firefighters. Because guess what, since the 1960, has been the greatest change in our fire service, the incoming of the ladies that have made a huge difference in what we do as a former men's only business. You were very unique and Vesuvius to have that fire service that way, the tradition across Canada was all men told the mid 60s or later, some communities for our back east still don't have any women involved. But most do. We here are lucky, we have about six members. And they're very committed. And they have a special talent to bring to us guys to make consideration and understanding and a value to the service in the community. Huge contribution. So I compliment all of those ladies that Take That effort and time. Our firefighters on Saltspring are trained as good as any city, Big City firefighter, they take the exact same program over a year, they work very hard, and they have to accomplish the goals that are set out. Or unfortunately, they will not move into the full status of firefighter. I've said a lot in a few minutes. Again, it's a great opportunity. And I want to recognize firefighter Chris Cormac, where they can sneak in in the back room. They're one of our active firefighters today. And this organization. And I'm going to allow you to ask questions, if you feel now and I'm also going to invite Michael or Bruce if they'd like to share some thoughts. There's some very interesting stories that I got off of lying about your Historical Society meeting in 1991. When you refer to when she Elliot made his request for the siren, the first siren some of you may have been here then to hear that story. And if you would indulge with me I've I've read it to you and you have to understand appreciate the year and the timeframe that it was being processed through and how it would come across then he was requesting a siren that sounded like the first siren for the island to be sounded for emergency calls and for blackouts during the war 41 I think is in 1991 This was when a little printed, but it was in the 40s when he would been making this request and pardon he made his own that's very possible. What it says is Canada at war British Columbia siren call and bear with me how he interpreting Sir this is written down it says Saltspring Island needed a fire Sire, which could have been had with us dutiful. But we are volunteers fire chief Arthur Elliot filled a US Priority forms sent from a lot of wall just as just so doodlee he answered a long Thank you long series of requests for additional information. Finally, he had had enough international red tape in a letter to Ottawa, Elliot exposed with lyrical wrath Saltspring Island rests like a gem of beauty in an assumed water off the Pacific Ocean. It has an area of 70 Miles well equipped barbero halls, a population of 1800 people, and a God fearing self respecting souls who pay their taxes promptly. It's lambs graze on carpets of wild velvet violence with which a grazing area about giving a distinction and decorating flavor to the meet. The need for an adequate fire protection is urgent. The method of alarm at present is totally inadequate. In consistence, of an old it consists of an old motor porn so that's mostly what you're talking about. But of oppressed bulb type implemented vocally by the fire chief. We need a sign asking for so either pass this request or refuse this request but let us know. But for God's sakes, don't call on writing any more Dan full letters, wasting time paper and the taxpayers money in idiotic requests for informations which cannot have any practical bearing on this application.

Speaker 1 9:36
I think he said it well. Stop messing around. Let's get something done here. So that was your first I guess recognize Volunteer Fire Chief. And he obviously had had some expressions of frustration that he wanted to say and get done. But I guess before that you had a group of I believe primarily men that had a vehicle somewhere downtown And then ran, it was stated here that Goody Goodman, somebody, Charlie Moore up there and cranberry donated his 1927, McLaughlin Buick, which Ben had you had not been used for a number of years, it turned into your first off record motorised fire vehicle. And it sounded like they converted it and done a whole lot of mechanical stuff to it, just like the good old boys still do today, when they want to build something, change something over. So it's an interesting documentation. And it was done and reported 1991 April, this was the report by last week and a few gentlemen I think might have been here made a presentation way back then great reading and great ideas. And I don't have to repeat it. I'm sure many of you may be aware of some of it. Some of the things that really changed the island, obviously, in fire servers was fires, the huge loss when something burned, and it was you know, somebody's livelihood, or somebody's home or other things. And then obviously, in the 5960 61 era, things had to change. And that's when the island formed their fire department. So as the fire chief, great to see you all here today. I hope this gives you a little quick thing. And I'd like Michael and Bruce to give some of their ends. Because I know at one point, as Bob said, there was possibly three different fire areas that was Vesuvius, the central and the South, and then it all come together when it was formed under 1960. And I know the Patterson family in the South was a huge supporter and involved personally, in making sure that things started there and got protected to what you have today. And Michael, being a volunteer firefighter for a number of years, as well as the chairman of the board can share any of those interesting times and thoughts that are valued in history to when he speaks on this. So if there are any questions to me, I would take them now or later. And again, it's been a great opportunity to bring forward and thank you for that video because I was gonna bring that I had it with me here too. And I thought it was a great opening for what brings a very good point. Women doing something way back then that was primarily men and I liked their excuse why they had to do it. It reminds me of a story of my own home and I got to share this with you. All the men in Nova Scotia were fishermen or farmers, but they never could protect the shoreline. So in my home community, there was this, like Citadel Hill kind of thing. They called it the blocos was the highest point of the land. And I guess in the years that the pirates would come in the Americans were coming to maybe change some things or whoever it was, the women would dress up as the soldiers with broom handles and march along and pretend they were doing the thing and reminded me so much of what those women said they were they were taking the men's job and making it right women, right, they were doing it right at the time. I compliment. That's a great video. And I remember seeing that as a young boy, back in Nova Scotia and thinking, Wow, that's pretty neat. And I sent that to Bob here today. So it's funny how life travels for certain people and particularly mine. And again, it's a pleasure to be here to speak to you and looking forward to your questions later. And I'll turn it over to one of these fine gentlemen that might want to say a few words. They're battling like the guys in the Muppet Show, right. Can you let them know? The north

Unknown Speaker 13:25
we have some gaps in our knowledge here because most of us aren't old enough to remember the really old days I joined the fire department in 1982. And I was a member of the Fulford brigade I served with with Bob Bruce's dad and Fred Hollings if people remember Fred and Don funk Baldy, who else was down there? My heart right working hard right now Gordon is still around. And we were kind of a little separate from the north end people they kind of look down on us down there but we had our own little esprit de corps. And there's a picture here we had the two trucks old 58 was a 1958 Chevrolet and Jeep was what 56 Anyway, it was acquired. New for the Fulford department and I think it was originally built on a contract for somewhere in South America and all the controls and knobs and everything are all in Spanish. It was grossly underpowered. I think I carried a couple 100 gallons of water and we just barely make it up lease hill with a load of water on it was really slow. But that's what we had in those days. In those days. The hole was opposite Bruce Patterson store where is now the kind of launch I don't know what else more inside bakery. Yeah. And then we moved to 1982 To the new site in the Fulford Valley and I remember Ken and I painting the inside of that hole when I was early in my career some of the things that have changed those days we had for gear, we had these high top boots that you'd pull up in long coats and hats and there was hardly any breathing apparatus so you kind of go into a fire and stand behind the hose nozzle because it would draw air and that's the only way you could breathe. And we had a lot less mandates from Workers Compensation Board and other safety things. idea was to get some water on the fire more or less however you could, and you know, things have changed a lot and those days from those days we have very rigorous training, much more rigorous concern for safety not only of the firefighters but the public and exposures. It's a more rigorous and hierarchical organization sort of in those days whoever got there first was kind of in charge and till less wag got there and then he was in charge See, I'd actually had a little bit to do with the fire department for them when 1973 I think we added to the Ganges fire hall including building the hose tower and I was working for my father was the architect of that project, supervise the we drove piles down through the old muck because it was all title in that area where the back of the hall is. So we drilled down through all the knows what it was into the rock and the concrete piles and then built a structural slab on top of that and the first few years the old part of the building was built on just floating slab on basically on sand on top of the what I think had been the mud flats. So it actually moved when the tide came in and out a little bit and the old part of the new part of the building just stayed there. So there was a crack where the buildings were joined and you could tell whether it was high tide or low tide. how big this crack I don't know if it's all set

Unknown Speaker 17:17
I don't know what else. So we've we've come a long way since I'm jumping in here.

Unknown Speaker 17:29
I guess my experience with the fire department starts when 1960 When the department was formed as we know it today. My father was one of the original firefighters of that time. I was two years old. So I guess you can say the fire department has been 52 now so so last 50 years I've been affiliated with the fire department, directly and indirectly. My memories of my father of course will be two years old. My father was always in the fire department. So we started off with a traditional alarm system that most rural fire departments had, which was we had Couples who live in the fire department. And we had we didn't have papers to alert us they actually would have to phone physically phone the firefighters to to alert them to a fire as well as put off the siren and the siren was for a number of the firefighters would have lived or worked close to the fire hall. So by putting the siren off was the fastest way of getting members to come to the fire hall to take the trucks out. And so they would fall my father at home at night or daytime they missed the fall in the store. And for anybody who answered the phone my grandmother or my father whoever started running around getting the truck ready and and the Jeep truck when I was a kid was stored in my grandparents garage and my father would run over the garage sling over the doors rolled up the Jeep truck. And next closest fire fighter was Fred Hall eggs he lived up an orchard just behind the store and fed off and worked outside and he wouldn't go answer a telephone. So my father would roll the truck out Stop the truck and hit the truck siren and then wait for about a minute or so to see your friend will come and literally you'd have this shiny aluminum tin helmet you'd have on his head and he would come running down this helluva 1001 You can run down the hill and he would jump in the truck and then it would roll off about four miles an hour and it's usually hysterical Can you hear the siren and it seemed like truck was not moving you listen to her listen to her listen to her she was going up have her tell her listen to her listen to this good let's do it fine eight Here you go so and then later on the build the bar Hall Fulford and the truck was over there. And then later on we actually got the France came down to Fulford, which de France was the first real fire truck the district ever bought. All the other ones were converted from somebody else. And that was our first truck, old 58. And she retired in the south end

Unknown Speaker 20:22
1012 years ago from friends still

Unknown Speaker 20:24
there when I retired first time, yeah. And also, like Michael said, originally, the hall got moved up two murders down. So then we had the pagers, and then we got the big old, and they were these big red boxes that we used to get. That was our first pagers. And of course, we were portable. So they sat in our case had that type of tape on that cabinet thing. And that's where it sat. And then later on, we got pagers and pages have gone on from from there, they're in there, as of now they actually record the call. So the old firefighters like meek, who can't remember where they're going, can actually go back. Oh, yeah, that's the address and better chance to get in the truck there. So I joined over 20 years ago, as Michael said, the training when I dry, we still had the tall rubber boots, the pull up boots, and I can American under a call and having embers go down the boots and doing the old one foot trying to get to get the birdie thing out of your foot and work. And it was pretty simple. I mean, our Trader was basically the wet stuff on the on the hot stuff and go home. And we've we've surely evolved from there so much more involved treaty process, we train for a lot of things that we never did 20 some odd years ago, like Jim says, Fire Rescue and we do a lot more rescue training than we did a long time ago. So it's a much more involved department. Because of everything we do now. It's basically required you have 100 hours minimum trading per year, and our training have gone from on Tuesday nights used to be a couple hours. Now it's three hours. And if you're a Sunday firefighter, it's often four hours. And that's how we bring truck up and then take truck back and then watch truck the truck back to bed. So our train at night is seven o'clock to 11 o'clock. Often, we will love our trading that we use to G validity to that we now have higher standards and FPA standards. And we do a lot more courses to do a lot more hot stuff taking those courses. We even have emergency truck driving, which something I never heard of years ago. So yeah, it's a much bigger, much more organized, much more professional. And we offer you a much better service than we did years ago. Used to be don't say, No, we never had a foundation. Because that's when we got there as well, that was the foundation. But now we actually do a really good job of getting their button fires out. So

Unknown Speaker 23:08
the big part of the fire department now is actually prevention and public education, which the best way to put a fire out is to not have it start in the first place, whether we're installing smoke alarms or teaching people how to keep their property clear from debris. So for avoid interface fires or notions of other elements of public safety and fire prevention, all these add up to fewer fires fewer incidents and involve risk to life and limb and property. And these things don't show up in statistics because you can't record what didn't happen. But overall, it's a safer environment and a healthier environment today than it was in the past, partly because of these initiatives that have been taken by Chief Bremner and his predecessor, you know, really bring our department up into not only the 20th century, but the 21st century. And all of this was built on the foundation of a lot of people who had great goodwill and invested a huge amount of time and energy, but really didn't have the resources that that have been brought to bear in the last say 10 years or so. So we're on a trajectory to continue to improve the department and improve the skills of our members and hopefully continue to provide a very safe service for Saltspring.

Speaker 1 24:33
Think they made a very key point here. With so much changing around us. It's a very continual job to manage and to take what needs to be done without losing reality what everybody may outs they should be right to be done with it. The accountability and the costs involved. You have to manage wisely and I will say through the board who both these gentlemen are on and we dialogue continuing on Trying to make it the most economically correct and modern as we can. There's huge differences today, the breathing packs when these gentlemen first started were Kanaks, breathing devices military style in your front, they've changed that to a breathing pack on your back which all of us know those big yellow packs or silver ones on your back. And just for an example, each one of those as a complete unit, and one firefighter needs a complete unit can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $12,000. But we don't buy the $12,000. One, we buy more to the lower or middle of the road, they all do the same job. But as you go higher, the more they can do. So you can see why New York buys $12,000 units for every member they have. Of course, they have a bigger tax base. So that's how we rationalize the other things. When we look around this audience and the predecessors that Michael talked about for the fire service, Ken, and all these other men and women that have done their time, you can't thank them enough. They built a tremendous history, a tremendous service, and saved many things that otherwise could have been really major losses for this island. Versus right years ago, no matter what fire department you were in, the joke was, you only arrived to save the basement. Today, it's a whole different world. And I invite any of you that want to talk further or come to the fire stations, the Vesuvius fire station, the central fire station, we now have two people working there five days a week, they may not be there every moment of the day because they go out and do other functions from the inspection and Prevention Division, but they're occupying that building. So it's very active. The Fulford Hall now was open on Tuesdays, usually from nine to four, with one of our staff firefighters down there working out of that people come and ask them questions, the trucks get taken out, they get checked over the regular, the biggest thing for an emergency service is to be prepared. And to be prepared, you have to train and continually keep up the ladies and gentlemen, you knew all about taking care of homes, we'll have three homes with all this action happening and 18 or 19 pieces of equipment, both mobile and stationary you have to deal with and 1000s of other items, tools and things that must be ready. It takes a lot of organization and commitment and time. And thank you to the people that do it because they do it every day in an all year round. Any further comments, gentlemen? No, I'd like to hear for some questions from Go ahead, man.

Unknown Speaker 27:38

Unknown Speaker 27:41
Are you? Yes.

Unknown Speaker 27:44
Dawn joins in the 60s. And we we moved into the fire her whole academic career. Adrianna, we were there about four years. And Don had to put the chains on the trucks when it snowed and I had to clean up after these guys per you know. And so so I had to answer the phone there. I was there when he first you know. And one day I was in the bathtub Dawn was late. I had to get out of the bathtub, open the doors for the trucks to get out and write on the chalkboard where the fire was. I'm standing there dripping wet in a dressing gown. And this lady screaming at me. Did they get the road right? What's their name? What happens the chalkboard falls down so I had a hole that they're dripping wax on. Tracks took off and then I laid it around and then changed and now they're time living in there. I was burning guard reached the tide but I had a garbage thing they're burning. I got the Bane call on fire. My phone is on and are exactly over the garage. I set my finance on fire they ran over take the hose off the truck sticking it out the back windows the door open the fire. Yeah, it was crazy. Oh, I know that lens occurred for you guys. Tuesday night. I didn't have a clothes dryer. So all the hoses all the strings on their side wash Tuesday got to have to take Kurt's diapers down off there because the fireman's are coming in so dry

Unknown Speaker 29:38
up the dry aged I don't know.

Speaker 1 29:50
I think that's a very good point. And thank you. There are a lot of people that as Bruce said the man the fire stations and the fire phones continually. Those were huge things in those days you didn't have the modern Things You have today. Those people hardly ever got recognized except being screamed at by somebody on the other end. How the hell am I am whatever's happening. And you could leave borrow? Exactly. You're right. 24/7 You were married to that? Yeah. And that's a huge commitment.

Unknown Speaker 30:16
And then there's no restaurants nothing open at night. My opinion.

Speaker 1 30:23
You are the mother of everybody, right? Yeah, I don't think you can be thanked enough and others that did it before and during the years of different community events and things. Because again, many of those things have stopped and changed. Some of the traditions, though, have been valued into the way we do things today, the pride of the organization. That's what she's really talking about the whole family network were much better and continue to improve in a family way we play in the sandbox, and sometimes we argue as a group, and don't always agree, but we always work it in somehow in the end, and hey, there's not a place in the country, anywhere that doesn't have disputes going on have some element like happens here every once in a while. And Salisbury, that doesn't happen here does it? And we move on we have to the public sets the process through the board of trustees, the trustees set governance that I and the other officers manage on a daily operation. And again, Ken anything you want to add to this

Unknown Speaker 31:23
you can monitor

Unknown Speaker 31:30
downtown, you know that firemen get their wife's phone, some of the environment and wipe up this way and, and so forth. She had a bunch of numbers to call. And I remember my first call and phone in our living room or something at two o'clock in the morning before rain pumps off the wall. my pager is a fire down here. Just pass a big barn down there and turn left on the third driveway and that was dated before. And after that,

Unknown Speaker 32:13
and no street numbers I

Unknown Speaker 32:17
look for the red glow.

Speaker 1 32:20
There's so there's so many stories like that. Can I thank you because that's exactly the way the fire service across North America started from a day when everybody said, Oh, it's Joe's neighbor. Or it's The Red House or the great one that I answered the phone one night when I was very young. And the lady says you won't have any problems find it because it's the bleep bleep bleep with the flames coming out. And I said Thank you, ma'am. And I hung up the phone because we had a firefighter. Oh, you know, those are the ways that it happened. And there was so many great historical things that have brought you through from where you are then to where you are today. Chris, anything you want to just folks just before, Chris, anything you want from a modern perspective, being the person that's in the back of the rope. Back here. Okay, thank you. Yes, sir. Sorry. I had a question. Yes. It's not the humor program. It's

Unknown Speaker 33:11
a technical question. We solve spring fires today. How would you break down the types of fire fires the car? And maybe areas breakdown on that?

Speaker 1 33:28
Yeah, we do. We actually have a very good breakdown on those. I can tell you in 2010 Nine structure fires, approx approximately 12, chimney fires, and stop and think candidates when you were in and you folks were first. And those numbers were really high, obviously. And we had approximately noted another 12 to 15 actual fires mixed in grass fires and other stuff. Our biggest change, as we said, when I first stood up here is everything else we do. Because the public calls for assistance. If you if you can't one theme I have here today changed the idea of calling the fire service as calling the Fire Rescue Service for assistance. Because everybody does it. The police call us for assistance. The paramedics call us for assistance. The public calls us for assistance, grants, search and rescue calls. Also recall them. It's back and forth the whole time. So it's changed tremendously. Last year in 2010. We did 624 calls for assistance. 624 calls for assistance. Some of them may have been minor, many more were more than minor. They were major. And they varied, you know, loss of homes, people injured, car accidents with death, all those kinds of things. Yes, ma'am. You had a question.

Unknown Speaker 34:54
Two things 14 years ago And I had a continuous combustion fire. And I think there should be more morning. Oat, linseed oil. This was linseed oil on a clean cloth out on the porch between 1030 At night am 630 in the morning and it's tediously combusted. I call 911. I live on Frederick road that said I was in Victoria. Because

Unknown Speaker 35:36
there's a Fernwood Road in Victoria.

Unknown Speaker 35:38
Yeah. Because we didn't have the local person 24/7. We had coworkers. So they just barely come to my house. And fortunately, the my garden hose was great. There. It was, it was on the house until they got there. But if they didn't two minutes later, and just a week or two ago, thank God, I was awake at 131 45. And my dog barked. And I looked outside to see somebody could set a fire on through work. And the police were there in about 12 minutes, the fire, Fireman with air and 15 minutes. But somebody hit two guys said take in six pallets out on the board, and it can't have gas and had set it on fire on a windy night. And so the fire department and the DOD and being awake,

Speaker 1 36:56
a lot of true things there. And yes, folks, let me tell you, there's so many dangerous things chemicals, the linseed oil has been a long time known and still continues to be a huge issue. Spontaneous combustion can happen because everything just starts to mix, right between the full fuels that are in the product themselves, the oxygen and the heat, and boom, off it goes. It happens the same way in a sawdust pile in a compost pile, you'll see the same kind of thing. Bit more organic but same issues. And yes, we still have people that set fires. Yes, sir.

Unknown Speaker 37:31
One thing that bothers me is I think you're constituted as an improvement district. Whereas if you're a municipality, you would have the authority to check and do preventive maintenance on buildings to make sure the exit time clock to make sure that rain shirts and restaurants are maintained. And would you care to comment on your limited authority to do preventive maintenance?

Speaker 1 37:54
I will dabble into it. It's a combination of between the trust and myself of the mandates that we actually have a being an improvement districts that has issues and challenges and some positive things in the way that I have some jurisdiction through the office of the fire marshal. But it is very limited in some cases. And the other things, I won't comment on what's better than one or another because I think it's a very decision oriented thing by the people of this island, which way they want to be governed and addressed. But I will tell you with each guidance or governance that's put on to us, the board and myself. There are pros and cons to it. So I'll be very cautious and saying we need a system that gives us the enforcement ability to do certain things that you're asking. We have some limited, but we still have a long way to go. And those are issues that you people as a violent have to make decisions and in other ways.

Unknown Speaker 38:53
I wasn't I wasn't going on the governance issue as much as what authority you have to do. Maintenance and inspections of schools, for example,

Speaker 1 39:05
through the office of the fire marshal, we do have some jurisdictional rights there. Yes, that is very limited is very limited. I don't deny that a bit. And again, that changes with the different structures of the improvement district or CRD process or whatever may be the case.

Unknown Speaker 39:18
The problem is a building is built, it can be built entirely to the codes and exits and everything else that goes with it. Once the occupancy permit position, then there's no follow up by the fire department. limited authority, shall we say?

Speaker 1 39:34
Yeah, I've actually implemented it. I'll take some credit with the trustees. We're trying to change that some last year we did 268 inspections on this island of businesses and locations. That's a huge number of my opinion. And that's the way we're going to keep going to do the best we can. Some of those are in agreement. Some of them are mandated that we can go do them. And when we talk about businesses We're talking about registered or or business locations where we know public and other things travel in and out. And schools hospitals, were working much more diligently as Michael mentioned 10 minutes ago in the prevention and and Inspection Division of this, which Baba is what you're definitely talking about, and I support. It's a European concept that has been working very well over in Europe for many years. They spend much more money on prevention, and have far more prevention members or officers than in some cases, they actually have firefighters. So we're changing the concept. Remember, I don't mean this rudely, but we've been following the American traditions, and they're not amongst the best in the world and what they do in the firefighting world. And that's a known fact.

Unknown Speaker 40:50
The name of fires and this isn't the correct,

Speaker 1 40:55
I agree with you fully. But let me tell you that if you go to change the name of the group of people that have been well endowed in their history, right, can you don't mess with the names? And that's one of the issues that yes, you're correct, man, from my world, take fire right out of it, because that's the least you do. But will I stand up and be the one that changes it? The membership will change that if they decide to? Yes.

Unknown Speaker 41:20
Question for candidate, but also a follow up. Class can likewise, think of all the Chiefs chiefs, finally, was firm, it always served from the energy right? It ever did have their own.

Speaker 1 41:45
I'm gonna ask Michael to read them because he knew most of these gentlemen that were your changes over the years

Unknown Speaker 41:50
during the early period of this is before we were actually incorporated as an improvement district. There were two chiefs was AB Elliot Warden mine ever met, and Don Goodman, whom I didn't know quite well. And then after the department was incorporated as an improvement district, starting in 1960, the first chief was Fred Donaghy, then, Dave Smith, was our first paid chief. And then Kelly Hank, Bob Lee's less wag Dave Enfield, and our current chief Tom Bremner. And I started under Bob Lee's, but I work with both Dave Smith and Kelly Hank before and I know, for many years, he's still on the island here, you probably remember it used to work at moments years ago, I want to just go back a minute to what the chief is talking about, about fire prevention and inspections. Part of our job, and particularly the chiefs in where he's been very successful as getting members of the business community and organizations to understand the value of fire inspections, and of taking the time and money thanks, chief to make the improvements that are requested as a result of an inspection because it's in everybody's best interest. It's whether it's this all or full for call, or one of the schools or even the small business in the Ganges. If the business is safer, in the long run, it saves people's lives. And it saves money for both the business and the public. And this is an education that not everybody realizes they don't want to spend the money to start with. But once they're convinced that it's in their best interest, then they cooperate. And so you don't actually have to use a stick to get them to conform that the carrot, in many cases works more effectively. And we've actually had, I think, very good response from the local business community in the last year or so. There's still some work to be done. But there's a base to build on. And I'm very, very gratified with that.

Speaker 1 43:46
I want to come in and I'm gonna get you in a second here before down the way Bob and I have been working on a project for two years that I've been here. And you've been working on it for three, we won't mention the name about a public safety issue that was huge in the right way. When I came, we started the dialogue. And I think within the next month or so we're going to have 100% resolve, which has been a battle. But my exact Thank you Michael way of doing things is to talk to people and let's dialogue on the educational factor. I had been challenged on the phone, you can't make me do that. You don't you're not going to do that. And I said here's the benefit. If we recognize something that is a code or an issue, if your insurance company finds out that that was an issue, after you had an emergency and you lost something, there's no way you're going to get if you want to prevent that. What do we got to do? Just what we said, Oh, really? And then they'll call our insurance company. They'll call me back. Okay, come see me. I'm going to do it. Now most in most cases, it's dialogue. It's education. I don't want to whip a big stick. I'm a big fan of the guy want to get a stick in my hand. I don't want to do that. But I want to make sure people have the right to dialogue and we understand each other and our staff is working most diligently to do that. Bob, did you have a follow up comment or

Unknown Speaker 45:04
teach? Was it? Yes or? No? Marilyn?

Unknown Speaker 45:08
How many team members do we have? How many volunteers? And how are you finding recruitment? Nice,

Speaker 1 45:12
good. Three questions in one. And I'll do this, we have seven careerstaff, five actual firefighters, a DC and myself. We have one administrative assistant that works at the front office five days a week. And at this point, we have 50 volunteers and eight recruits. We are having as everyone else in Canada and North America is having a hard time to recruit the volunteer and and that's another name. That's challenging. Because if you look up volunteer, that's someone that doesn't get a stipend or compensation. And that's a challenge because most young people don't understand the commitment, they're going to give the time that it takes otherwise. Just to give you a quick example, and Chris, and Bruce will remember the differences in their days when Chris came on, every Tuesday night, you have to give for your first year 100%. Plus, then how many weekends? Chris three or four. And that's before you do anything else, then you have all the social events, your netted, asked to either work at or deal with, you got the fall fair, mentored another 10 or 12 items, Chris, would that be correct? And that's a big commitment for 52 weeks of the year just to get to be a firefighter if you pass all the tests. And what was your third,

Unknown Speaker 46:26
you'll just how are you finding recruitments

Speaker 1 46:28
it's challenging, but it's challenging everywhere. We call it in the Chiefs world and I'm on a network of chiefs every day, across the country, we call it the rotating door syndrome. An average volunteer community person that comes off the street to join that sector is lasting around three years or less. Because they can't do it. It's just so demanding because of all the legislation we're under. In order to be a firefighter, you have to gain and obtain certain things or you can't make it. And that's challenging. And I'm sorry to say there's many people that think it's easy from the outside looking in. But when they're inside they say and we have a theory, if you make the first year, you're normally going to reevaluate it the third year if you make it the fifth year as a volunteer or firefighter, then you're not going to be a lifer. 2025 years, you average people overall are staying about 10 years now. So it's changing. Bruce has been in for a long time Mike was in for a long time. Ken was in for a long time Chris is in, you know, I've got I'm still one of the older dogs at a young age. And I'm very lucky. I grew up in a fire station. So this was all I knew. 47 years my dad was a firefighter. And I was 14 when I remember good story, but his first call, I remember my first call while I was 14 and six foot one, and dad woke me up with the siren baloney sandwich, I forgot to tell you, you're a fireman, now my mother rip the head off the door. I won't repeat the word she said. But she was not a happy mother. And here I am today,

Unknown Speaker 47:57
I'd like to just comment a little bit about recruitment. When I think five or six years ago, certainly after I was first elected to the board, it was in 19 2003. We had 28 firefighters, and we had a hard time recruiting to a year and we would have usually two would retire or at least for some reason or another. So we were static. And it was very hard to get people to make the commitment. And I have to give the staff particularly an awful lot of credit. Because in the last, say five years, we've had an average recruitment of what seven or eight every year and we don't get them all to stay. But at least there are people coming through the door. Now as we say our complement is 52. That's a vast improvement because of the workload on the smaller number. You don't get fewer calls, just because you have fewer people, it's just people get more work and they get burned out. And so we were losing people, because they just they just ran out of gas. And so having more people is really it's been a huge advantage in terms of retention and giving people a breather from having to go to every single call and we hope to maintain that higher standard. So

Speaker 1 49:06
two things come off of that. And I'll finish with your question here. We find the more and I'm going to use professional the approach we do that the right way to do things the more right people that understand what they're getting into and want to be a participant in it. When we look at what the changes are, we have so many other elements just besides that person that we have to take care of them on making sure their family understands what they're involved to making sure they are covered compensation wise through the w the workplace B C program and other benefits and things they have to get have. It's a huge conglomerate of things now that back in the day we can join you were a firefighter and that was printer the issue correct, sir. So the gentleman with the glasses was next right?

Unknown Speaker 49:53
Can you give us an example of a big fire

Speaker 1 49:59
let me as I can tell you many but not any Saltspring yet, but verse will give you

Unknown Speaker 50:04
that wasn't a bit late, but your barn was one of spectacular fires that I went to. I remember the colors that came out of that barn and well was on fire was interesting. We've got harbor house burned down. That was Korean, foreign Korean, of course, book Lake last five years, that was a huge fire. And we were very, very, that was a fire that luckily, and to the credit of the community was prevented from me, I'm much, much larger fire, we have tremendous response from a lot of people to assist us in putting that fire out, because that potentially could have been catastrophic fire.

Unknown Speaker 50:44
America had tremendous

Unknown Speaker 50:47
they were all out there. spot fires and all that stuff there. It hadn't been for all those folks. That could have been a completely different situation.

Unknown Speaker 50:55
Where's that?

Unknown Speaker 50:57
Blue Lake Resort durability out there? Oh, yes,

Unknown Speaker 51:00
I remember seeing it we were living up in. Yeah, this is from California. And all of a sudden, they said, there's a big fire. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 51:15
The original bullet comes from me.

Speaker 1 51:19
I think we also must credit what was just said that people in America that we're working with more and more every couple of weeks, with their, they have a small unit out there a small mini truck. And we share resources now and helping them and they are more than glad to work with us. And we appreciate that. And I think it's huge. For me, I can tell you when we talk about the changing world, and we asked about fires, three things that will stick in my mind over my career was being shot at, which wasn't a pleasant feeling. And not once but several times. Having the Swiss Air flight 111 going down and seeing those bodies floating by you in the water and there wasn't a thing you could do. Not a thing. And it wasn't a pleasant thing at all. And the fact that you've seen my best friend die in a car accident, you didn't know till you got there that it was him. And those are things that are real today, folks. And we talk about changing the health and wellness of firefighters is so important. And so critical. Today, I don't pass the glass anymore as an excuse me came on, I'm going to do it honestly, you don't pass the glass anymore and say this is the medicine to make it better. We say we need to make sure you're going to be healthy for the next time. It's changed tremendously. And that's the difference. And that all takes a professional approach with many resources and people working and nothing wrong with the with the day that was back 30 years ago. But today it's changed. And that's hugely important gentleman in the back room classes.

Speaker 2 52:47
Yeah, I was interested in the bowling league player to witness.

Unknown Speaker 52:55
I wasn't I wasn't in when that fire happened. I've probably Chris Well, you wouldn't then.

Unknown Speaker 53:01

Unknown Speaker 53:07
Paul for a year. It was a very interesting experience. We just got back from a call earlier transpired to detail. And we looking at the left the hall, they're still backing up. They're here to Washington truck. And that call came in. And we were up all night long. And the embers were just blowing off of us sitting on the truck and your spot fires all over the place. We had a line coming off supplying water to the edge and I was running and I regard them right now. They go much further above what was important for my chaotic life. It was very disheartening to see one building go and then moving to the next one. You're hoping to save it. And that was an excellent process. Too long, hard work by a lot of people.

Speaker 2 53:59
The urban urban myth was at the gate was locked in a keyboard and they had a huge water tank there. He couldn't access the water that was there. And did anybody ever find out who have the closer?

Unknown Speaker 54:11
I don't think they ever figure out how as far as outdoors, no gate was locked. We didn't have any problem getting access to our equipment. And we did have some issues with I think the big water storage tank that they have there but we haven't figured it out reasonably fully afterwards on like the next day.

Speaker 1 54:34
And that's a very good point. I think the stories that start sometime aren't always the truth. And don't feel ashamed to ask a question that needs to be answered because that's what needs to be done. Thank you Chris because I'll get you in a sec sir. He that's a tremendous fire to see. I faced big burn fires I remember one was a marina warehouse. It had about 30 yachts in it. It was a boat to 450 feet Long by about 300 feet wide, it was a huge building, fiberglass, everything you can imagine. And I will tell you the little miracle that happens every once in a while, as Chris says about learning and understanding. I was a young firefighter. 18 years old, I was on the end of a nozzle, things were happening all around me. We were there for two days. The third day we're back doing mop up, size up, clean up, a gentleman comes up and there's a number of cars totally destroyed, completely destroyed next to the building. He comes up he said, Oh my God. He said, That's my car. Sorry for your loss or and you got to feel compassionate about this whole thing. And if you know what that means, it's really tough to see something that you own that you may be a real value in gone. I said, I just sold a boat the day before that in the caches in that car. And I said there's not a prayer, sir. There's a bit of cash left in that car. Bruce may know the story. I've shared it with a few others on the show. He said would you lock? Would you just take time to lock? I said yeah, okay, so me and my buddy go up. And I he said I said Where was he sitting in the glove box. It was in a package in the glove box. This was an audit. And you know that oddities are well built in most cases and back then nice and heavy. But 78 It was I opened that glove box and guess what's in it. The whole bed of it. You never saw a guy smile so happy in his life. Those are the joyous memories you remember. He had over $300,000 While bottles and everything else was destroyed. There wasn't a bit of the car left. And also these are great memories and things that you know you think was silo fires, most dangerous thing you can ever fight. There's an explosion can happen if you put too much water on top of grain or dust. You're going to get the biggest explosion you ever had in your life and you're going to kill people in the production day last six I believe in a silo fire and the 90s are they're pounding the water to the top comes right off it. These are things you got to think of highly trained understanding situations. Any other questions general officer

Speaker 3 57:04
around the island or many fire hydrants on the street and they always the pressure up on those hydrants and when you look at even though the water is actually going to

Speaker 1 57:19
80% of them are very inadequate or more. And you don't that's why we have bow ball tenders what you would call tanker trucks, the core Ganges and a number of other places. Yes, there's good hydrants. But there are far less good hydrants than there are bad hydrants. There's a lot of bad hydrants. Having a fire hydrant in front of you may mean that you can tell your insurance company there's a hydrant there. Don't ask them never tested. Okay. You ask the question, and that's the answer. We go to many places we open a hydrant and we have to close it immediately. It's just inadequate. You got to remember we're filling either four inch, six inch or two and a half inch hose in most cases for a big fire. That takes big water. Big fires take big water, just remember that comment? And the rest is history. Any other questions or comments? Yes, sir.

Unknown Speaker 58:15
What brought you to Saltzman from Holloway? Oh, nice. There's Michael.

Speaker 1 58:22
Let me just say that this is I'm asked this all the time. The fact that there is no snow and a Nova Scotia in the last month and a half to 320 centimeters in a month, or month and a half. I don't need to shovel any more snow in my life. Many of you from the east will know what I'm talking about. And central Canada, a sister that I hadn't seen in 42 years of Victoria that I desperately wanted to see and a change in life. I've been in the Nova Scotia fire service all my life, which was the 35 years I was there. I had worked my way up to the chief in a number of well recognized communities and had led as the president of the fire service for Nova Scotia with 12,000 firefighters as their president for six years. When I found the Saltspring I sent them a little inquiry and the rest is history. Michael could tell you that it took a bit of time chief

Unknown Speaker 59:10
Enfield retired, we put out a call for interested parties. I think we had 32 applications. We went on it down pretty quickly to about six we did another cut came down to three we interviewed three we interviewed Tom twice, once on the phone and we flew him out here and offered him the job. And I'd say it was as easy as negotiations I've ever had a few emails and the process was long winded, but it's just the process really of crossing the T's and dotting the I's and I have to say we've been very happy with Tom. I hope he's happy with that.

Unknown Speaker 59:49
I enjoy it there. Any other questions?

Unknown Speaker 59:52
First, I'm just making a comment. You're talking about some of the changes in recent history. I came in September. That's one of the first

Unknown Speaker 1:00:03
things to go.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:06
The second thing is the hair roll was Joplin. Fishing accident. Job was a that was a new Chingford, a game change. Some people took it really well and other people wondered, why do we need a chaplain a few months, and then chemo as a recruit. Next year is classic half years, changes that we've achieved from both way of looking after our firefighters. We started a critical incident stress management program. We have eight trained peer support workers to help our firefighters through some of those incidents, whether it's major fatality or an issue between healthy and strong for over two major changes along with the equipment that we have. And Catherine Salas also have lots of medicine for firefighters, healthy and strong long term and appreciate the hours of volunteers put in Rishi mentioned that we were mandated to a minimum of 100 hours per year and most firefighters probably do anywhere from 140 Probably 280 hours all the volunteer calls the top of that service and most firefighters

Unknown Speaker 1:01:39
This is on top of their regular job

Unknown Speaker 1:01:42
so thanks very much I think we'll cut in now and get the key and copy out your personal questions after that thanks to 3d for coming today and wish you well the next 50 years

Speaker 1 1:01:54
we offer also over here some history items you can look at and then entertain any questions thank you for this opportunity in about half of all three of us want to thank Mike and Bruce for coming in and meeting Kevin having Chris here appreciate it very much

Unknown Speaker 1:02:42
obstacles here

Unknown Speaker 1:03:07
made it beginning I came in on Bob's

Unknown Speaker 1:03:27
recruit YouTube

Unknown Speaker 1:03:53
thank you

Unknown Speaker 1:04:21
your recorder

Unknown Speaker 1:04:23
I don't think we got the microphone

Unknown Speaker 1:04:49
right it Good morning

Unknown Speaker 1:05:37
right South America

Unknown Speaker 1:05:57
circle converting?

Speaker 1 1:06:49
Ya Are you going to be backing pretty soon