The Burns Lake Fire Rescue crew members training for an ice rescue mission. (BLFR photo/Lakes District News)

The Burns Lake Fire Rescue crew members training for an ice rescue mission. (BLFR photo/Lakes District News)

Burns Lake Fire Rescue saw over 230 per cent increase in calls

20 motor vehicle incidents and one ice resuce in just the first month of winter

The Burns Lake Fire Rescue (BLFR) crew attended to over 230 per cent more calls than average, in just a month since the winter began.

A total of 134 calls were recorded in 2018 however, there are already 151 calls recorded this year, 42 of which were in the Oct. 1 to Nov. 22 period.

“We did 42 calls in the 52 day period and our average over the last five years, in that length of time would be just 18 calls and of course we have five more weeks to go and I am pretty sure we will be above 160 calls. And that’s if we do an average December,” said Director of Protective Services, Rob Krause.

Of the 42 calls, 20 were for motor vehicle incidents, 12 of which were serious and one involved a pedestrian. 9 calls were for fire alarms, one for a structural fire, one, an open air fire and one was a transformer or pole fire. BLFR crew also responded to calls for assistance, carbon monoxide alarm going off, kitchen item fire, medical aid, three hydro lines down and one call for ice rescue.

“Definitely motor vehicles were the biggest in that time period and they are way up than usual. We had a couple of bad winter storms and bad roads so that accounts for a big chunk of it. We also did nine fire alarms; of which three were real and six were false alarms. By that I mean, if somebody burns a toast at one of the seniors’ complexes and sets off the smoke detector, that’s a real fire alarm, it did go off for a valid reason. A false alarm is when it goes off and we don’t know why, there is no fire, no smoke, no damage. So a bunch of those calls were due to a computer glitch through the same system,” said Krause.

The ice rescue was also a call that has happened early on in the season, when the ice isn’t even safe for walking yet. According to Krause, the crew members estimated that the ice was only 1-2 inches thick and 6 inches is the minimum recommended for walking on ice.

On Nov. 20, the crew was called by the local RCMP after they felt that an individual was a danger to himself.

”The individual was wandering on the ice of Burns Lake, west of the bridge. We were asked by RCMP to attempt to convince the individual to return to shore and to be close by should the ice fail. The crew responded with a total of 6 members, two of whom geared up in the ice rescue suits and had to walk out to convince the individual to return to shore,” said Krause.

Because the ice was so thin and not suitable for walking, while the individual did reach the shore safely, the two members who went out to bring him back, broke through the ice. They were able to get back on top of solid ice and make their way back to the staging area, but it was a risky mission for the crew to begin with.

Krause also spoke of a few safety tips for the community.

“The biggest climb in calls we see is the motor vehicle incident. The message to people would be to slow down and drive to road conditions. Leave extra time to get to where you are going. Yes, we had bad roads but some of these accidents were also because the people were driving too fast for those bad roads and that’s the unfortunate part of it,” he said.

The other reason for calls that Krause mentioned was chimney fires. While this year there haven’t been any such calls yet, he wanted to remind people to clean out their chimneys and keep their chimneys clean to avoid such fires.

“Another one is for people to make sure that they stay in the kitchen while cooking; the one structural fire that happened in the past month, that was a result of someone, who had left the pot on the stove and left the room and as a result the kitchen caught on fire. There is a lot of holiday cooking coming up so probably a good idea to remind everyone of that,” he said.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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