Pender Islands Fire Protection Society
Our Impact Why We Exist
"Volunteers Serving Community”
Pender Island Fire Rescue (PIFR) provides emergency response services to residents and visitors to North and South Pender Islands, a population that varies during the seasons from 2,500 to almost 10,000. Typical incidents include structure fires, chimney fires, medical emergencies, automobile accidents, industrial or equipment accidents, hazardous materials incidents, burn complaints, rope rescues, injuries, flooding, downed power lines and a variety of other critical situations.
Pender Island Fire Rescue is a composite fire and rescue organization; with a small permanent staff who enable a much larger group of community volunteers to safely provide competent, qualified and caring services. Values-based recruiting and a long-term commitment to professional training standards have earned recognition from the British Columbia Commissioner of Fire and Emergency Management, Rebecca Denlinger, who described PIFR as “a leader within the fire service in British Columbia...”.
Faced with a challenging population demographic, PIFR has developed and successfully implemented a number of programs to broaden community involvement with the service. These innovative programs include Job Sharing, Culinary Teams, Truck Checkers, Fire Cadet Camps, Communication Operator Volunteers, and other methods of enabling all of the community to contribute to delivering excellence in services. The trade magazine, Fire Fighting in Canada (September 2009) described the results: “ These solutions are a testament to the creative thinking, ingenuity and determination that fire departments need to meet the demands of ever-increasing safety standards, public expectations and recruitment/retention challenges.”
While this recognition is appreciated and highly valued, the most important feedback to the men and women who volunteer to serve is from our community and neighbours:
- “...you are always there with big smiles and strong arms...”
- "Thank you for saving the trees and our neighbour’s house...that was very brave.”
- “Your actions helped save my life...”
- "...just to say how thankful we are to have such a wonderful crew...”
Our Story What We Do
The evolution of Pender Island Fire Rescue (PIFR) is a reflection of the growth of North and South Pender. Over the past three decades our Gulf Island community has become more populated and the demands on our infrastructure more complex.
Twenty-five years ago PIFR consisted of one fire hall and two pieces of equipment. We had about two calls per month. At most, there was one major fire a year and we managed burning regulations.
Today, PIFR consists of three halls situated to optimize call times and maximize homeowner insurance benefits, and there are more than 10 pieces of equipment.
Now, we have about 200 calls per year, three are major fires. Last year we were also called to six chimney fires, two vehicle fires and another nine accidents, one forest fire, 18 burn complaints, 64 first response medical emergencies, 30 ambulance assists, and the list goes on.
In an increasingly complex environment, PIFR has evolved to sustain its highly efficient community-based service by recruiting a much broader spectrum of volunteers: men and women from all walks of life, teens to seniors, working together and embracing change.
We take pride in the promise that when you need help someone who knows what to do will come. In order to better deliver on our commitment of service to the community we have grown our force of fire fighters, first responders and support volunteers substantially over the past four years. Today we have 47 active fire fighters and first responders and 51 support crew, compared to just 18 active responders and 12 support crew in 2006.
We have come to understand that the best way to make a volunteer force sustainable is to build it on a values-based foundation. Best of all, we are now able to provide a broader range of services to our community. And, we are doing it with a renewed sense of purpose, pride and honour.
Our Programs How We Do It
To ensure excellence in emergency service delivery, Pender Island Fire Rescue continually invests in initial and ongoing training for firefighters, medical first responders and technical rescue specialists. We believe that this commitment to rigorous training improves the quality of services provided, enhances responder safety, and increases volunteer recruitment and retention. More information about all programs is available on our website, www.penderfire.org.