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DEPARTMENT PROFILE: Comox Fire Rescue

Vancouver Island station is training for life
July 07, 2011 Written by Laura King
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Department name/location

Comox Fire Rescue, Comox, Vancouver Island, B.C. Founded 1946.

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Chiefs/deputies
Fire Chief Gord Schreiner, CFO, GIFireE
Assistant Chief Rick Shelton
Assistant Chief Jim Lariviere

Type of department
Composite

Mandate
Suppression, rescue, medical, hazmat, public education, fire prevention and operating a regional fire training centre in partnership with the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

Number of stations/halls
1 station serving 20,000 people

Number of firefighters
5 full-time (chief, two assistant chiefs and two staff)
45 paid, on-call firefighters

Number of officers
3 chiefs
3 platoons, each with one platoon captain
Each platoon has two companies with a lieutenant on each.
Each of the six companies has six firefighters.

Geographic area served
15 square miles
Number of apparatuses
1 65-foot quint
1 rescue engine
1 rural engine
2 rescue vehicles
1 26-foot fireboat
3 staff vehicles
2 special-operations trailers

Shift
Full-time staff is four on, three off, days only (10-hour days).

Hiring procedure
Full-time hires from within only. Approximately five paid, on-call firefighters hired per year, with application process and waiting list.

Level to which department trains
All chiefs are Fire Officer 3 or better.
All captains are Fire Officer 2 or better.
Most lieutenants are Fire Officer 1 or better.
All firefighters are NFPA 1001, Level 2. (It takes about two years for our recruits to achieve the NFPA 1001 standard. Most of our firefighters have many other certifications.)

What’s new
New engine arrived in May.
Another new training building being constructed in 2011. Our training centre boasts a seven-room, concrete, live-fire building, two training towers (one five-storey, the other three-storey) and dozens of props.
Oldest station or most unique station
Our only station includes a very good fire-training centre on the same property.

Most significant fire in your department’s history
In 2011, we had a fire that destroyed the Lorne Hotel, a 130-year-old pub.

Most significant other incident in your department’s history
Fire department responded to the crash of a Lancaster military airplane many years ago.

Department’s mantra, or saying
Training for LIFE!

Social or athletic activities in which your members participate
A little bit of everything – including fishing!

Causes your department supports
You Are Not Alone, or Y.A.N.A., a local charity to which we donate thousands of dollars each year.

Unique events your department hosts
We host an annual Valentine’s Day dinner for our significant others at the fire station. We also host an annual pay-it-forward day, where we provide smaller departments with a free day of training and lots of prizes, including training books and DVDs. And we host a firefighter youth camp every other year: 36 students stay at the fire station for five days. We have hosted six such camps so far.

Uniform colour
Station uniforms: black.
PPE: black, including all-black helmets for all ranks.
Rank is shown with different colour reflective on the helmets.

Anything interesting in your community?
Comox Fire Training Centre

Quick facts
Comox Fire Rescue is a very unique and innovative fire department. Its members are among the best trained in the country. The department is full of innovative ideas. Our first-out engine has three thermal imaging cameras in it and we have seven TICs in total in our station. We train hard and expect to refill at least 40 cylinders each practice night.

Chief Gord Schreiner was busy in 2010, working part time for the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner as a venue commander at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, B.C. He also works as a structural protection specialist at several of the larger interface fires in the province, and teaches part time for the Justice Institute of British Columbia, instructing fire-service courses in British Columbia, Alberta and Saudi Arabia. 

At its annual conference in September, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs named Chief Gord Schreiner 2010 Full-time Fire Chief of the Year. “I was very surprised by this and believe it reflects the outstanding department we have here,” he said. Chief Schreiner also received an award of excellence from the Justice Institute of British Columbia in 2010. 

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