March Fire Department Report

Matt Treit, Fire Chief


The month of March was fairly typical for the TRFD with the fire department responding to a total of eighteen calls during that time. As usual, the majority of the calls (eleven) were First Responder calls, with the remaining calls involving ringing fire alarms (four), motor vehicle accidents (two), and a single structure fire. Training in the month of March included CPR, First Responders, Auto-extrication, and Strategies and Tactics. Congratulations to Lieutenant Braam, and Firefighters Beale, Beattie, Leach, Thibodeau and Arnaly who all achieved 100% attendance at training sessions during that month.

There were some significant milestones reached this past month including Firefighter Don Ross fulfilling the requirements for his NFPA 1001 training which is the standard for Professional Firefighters; Deputy Vandale, Captain Curry and Lieutenant Braam all completed Incident Command System Level 300 training, and Captain Curry and Lieutenant Braam also finished their Fire Officer Level II training through the Justice Institute of BC.

Firefighter Don Ross has also now completed five years with the Tumbler Ridge Fire Department and we hope to see him with the department for many more years to come. I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome Christopher Dokkie and Ryan Knight to the department. They both joined during the month of March and we wish them all the best with our organization.

Even though we are (hopefully) approaching the end of the wood burning season, as we recently had a fire resulting from the disposal of woodstove ashes (not the first time that this has happened in Tumbler Ridge), it seems a good time to remind those with woodstoves and fireplaces about the proper method of disposing of those ashes. The danger with the disposal of seemingly harmless ashes is that there are often hot coals mixed in with the ashes. If the coals are not exposed to adequate oxygen, the coals do not appear to be burning, and unless the owner places his/her hand into the ash pile, he/she would likely not realize that they are still hot enough to start a fire. Because the ashes act as an insulator and reduce the oxygen reaching the coals, the coals can continue to slowly burn for days. Even if the ashes are then placed outside (either on the ground on in a container without a lid), they are still a danger as they are exposed to wind which may remove the lighter ash material thus exposing the coals, and providing oxygen to ignite the coals into open flame.

To safely dispose of woodstove ashes, it is important to always treat the ashes as if they still contain burning coals (just like treating every gun like it is loaded). The ashes should be placed in a non-combustible container with a tight fitting lid. The bottom of the container should have a raised edge around the circumference of the bucket to ensure that the bottom surface of the bucket does not make contact with the floor (this prevents heat transfer). Once the lid is firmly fastened, the bucket should be placed outside on a non-combustible surface until such time that it can be taken to the Transfer Station and disposed of in the burn pit, and not the garbage bins, as this has also resulted in numerous fires over the years. If you have any questions about your solid-fuel burning appliance, please do not hesitate to contact the fire hall.