Princeton Fire Department update

  • Mar. 15, 2011 5:00 p.m.
Some of the local fire crew volunteers got up close and personal to this mock vehicle fire.

Some of the local fire crew volunteers got up close and personal to this mock vehicle fire.

“2010 was a transition year, long time member Tony Kirkland retired after 30 years in the department,” explained fire chief Eric Gregson.  “He had been the secretary/treasurer for the last 12 years and this was the first change in the executive committee in that time.”

“We also went from our busiest year in 2009, 145 calls, to one of the slowest in six years, 79 calls.  The Weyerhaeuser hog building was the only major structure call of the year.  Rob Banks and I were away that day.  Frank Harrison and Kevin Sills took charge of the call and did a good job in command.”

The Princeton Volunteer Fire Brigade responded to two residential structure fires, two industrial/commercial structure fires, three vehicle fires, sixteen grass/bon fires, one propane/gas call, eleven alarm activation calls, four chimney fires, five BCAS Assistance calls, four power lines down/electrical calls, two motor vehicle accidents, one CO alarm activation call and one hog/sawdust fuel fire.  The brigade also responded to one forestry call with Engine #12, three fire investigations, ten public relations events and thirteen burning complaints/investigations.  In total, 169 man hours were used for the 79 calls by the volunteers as opposed to the 347 man hours in 2009.

Three calls were categorized by Gregson under the major fire call category.  These fires were: a small pick-up truck fire; a forklift fire at Weyerhaeuser mill; and the hog building at Weyerhaeuser mill.

The volunteers put in 700 hours of practice time.  “The Tulameen, Hayes Creek and Hedley fire departments all attended our live car fire practices during May and June for mutual aid training,” added Gregson.  “It has been a really positive experience for the three brigades.”

The members also continual upgrade and refresh their fire safety education and training through courses.

The fire hall itself underwent some upgrades.  A woman’s/handicap washroom and shower are now done and in use and new lights were installed in the bay area.  “The vehicle exhaust system was expanded to include all vehicles,” added Gregson “and we are happy with the results.”  A mural painted on the outside of the south side of the hall has become a point of interest for visitors and locals alike, getting a lot of positive feedback.  Councillors Frank Armitage and Jason Earle had a recent experience with some visitors who made special comment about the mural.

The fire department’s constitution was reviewed and a full rewriting of it was completed.  Fire pressure and hydrants in the new water system have been tested by the fire department.  Gregson noted that some of the hydrants in the industrial park had not yet been turned on.

“The B.C. Fire Code inspection program is in its last year,” Gregson said, “but the inspector would like to continue for three more years and it is being discussed with the town.”

Some new equipment has been purchased for the volunteers.  Self containing breathing apparatus systems, boots, pagers and turn-outs.  Turnouts cost an average of $2200 a piece and we are trying to minimize the financial impact on the department by budgeting for 3 or 4 sets each year.”

The fire department was present and appreciated at the air show, fall fair and Racing Days parade.  They held a open house for Princeton’s 150 birthday celebration, delivered Christmas hampers, did their usual Halloween safety patrol held an interagency BBQ and swim and participated in a WITS program at John Allison School.  WITS stands for Walk Away, Ignore it, Talk it out, Seek help and was a program the department has been participating in once every two months.

Eric Gregson remains fire chief, Rob Banks is assistant chief and Training Officer, Dan Pippin, John Laursen and Frank Harrison are fire captains, Harold Allison and Kevin Sills are Lieutenants and Rob Hicks has taken over as secretary.

Mayor McLean thanked Gregson on behalf of the community for keeping Princeton safe and again doing a lot above and beyond their duties.