Members of the Burns Lake Volunteer Fire Department put in over 8,200 hours of work in 2018, said fire chief Robert Krause.
In his report summary to the village council on Feb. 12, Krause said those hours include time helping the BC Wildfire Service last summer, incident calls, training and other events.
He clarified that he is the only paid member of the fire department and that most of the 30 volunteers contribute their time while also working full-time jobs.
Though they receive a stipend for responding to calls and some training sessions, other activities such weekend training, community events and weekend standby during the summer are unpaid.
Almost all of the volunteers put in hundreds of hours for those activities last year and some of those with the highest hours include Jason Blackwell with 649, Eric Williams with 275 and Kevin Germaine with 243.
Last year wasn’t the only time Burns Lake fire department volunteers have put the needs of the community above personal commitments.
Over the Oct. 8-9 Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, responded to five emergency calls in 32 hours.
The department’s response time is also proving to be quick, and Krause said the average reaction time for January – from page to truck rolling – was four minutes and 20 seconds.
“That’s a volunteer fire department that gets dressed and gets on a truck and departs on average in less than four and a half minutes,” he said.
The fire chief attributes the short response time to the speed that most volunteers can arrive at the hall, as many of them live and work near the fire station.
Krause added that the number of incident calls the department received last month was higher than in the past two years.
The monthly average is 11 calls and in January of this year it was 16, which included motor vehicle incidents, medical assistance, fire alarms, downed hydro lines and fires. Krause said the higher number of vehicle incidents was likely due to the weather conditions.
“I took a further look at just January and we were double the five year average for the previous five year period. On average we responded to only eight calls in January from 2014-2018, versus 16 this year,” he explained.
“We’re hoping that’s not the trend for the entire year. We’ve been very busy this year.”