Christina Lake fire chief Joe Geary joined the department last winter, after 11 years with the Sidney fire department on Vancouver Island. (File photo)

Christina Lake fire department sees leap in training under new chief’s tenure

Fire chief Joe Geary has been on the job for one year and has spent $35,000 on members’ training

In one year on the job as Christina Lake Fire Department’s first paid chief, Joe Geary has hauled his crew of 21 firefighters to new levels of training and competencies.

Geary explained at the Area C Christina Lake Open House on Jan. 29 that his department spent approximately $35,000 on training for its volunteers, amounting to around 32,000 hours of education and practice for things like rope rescues and other certifications.

(The members’ rope rescue skills were put to the test last December, when a car slid down an embankment off Hwy 3, east of Christina Lake, and firefighters were required to rappel down the slope to help the passengers).

Geary said that one half of all of the department members were fully trained through all relevant certifications, meaning that they could theoretically be hired on at a paid department. Several more members are completing their training over the next few months, while a handful of 2019 recruits are catching up as well.

Looking forward to 2020, Geary said that the department will have three major priorities: retrofitting a pontoon boat to be useful as a fireboat, acquiring a new tanker truck and pursuing a smoke detector program with safety walkthroughs of Christina Lake buildings.

The department spent much of 2019 fundraising for the fireboat, and collected about $16,000 from its efforts, Geary said. Though the boat-access-only community at the lake does not yet pay into the Christina Lake fire protection service, Geary said that the fire boat will be effective to handle lake rescues and waterfront fires as well.

Last June, a lakefront residence on Ritchie Road caught fire and the department struggled to get access to the building – its trucks wouldn’t fit under some of the branches that stretched across the driveway.

“It created a lot more work for us to run our lines down that driveway to try and get to the house,” Geary said of the trees, shortly after the fire.

With a boat, Geary said at the open house, the department could have attacked the blaze from the shore.

The department also had to douse a grass fire last summer that, as Geary put it, was only accessible “by car.” Firefighters ended up using the RCMP boat to access the fire.

But beyond the boat, the department’s biggest capital cost ($324,000) will be for a new tanker truck, something that Geary said is needed to replace an aging model.

The department is working on getting the fireboat converted and ready for the water by summer 2020.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two-way race in NDP nomination for Boundary-Similkameen, party confirms

The results of the online contest will likely be announced Thursday afternoon, Sept. 24

Veintimilla to run as Liberal candidate

The Oliver councillor will run for MLA of the Boundary-Similkameen riding

Citing stability, B.C. Premier calls snap election for Oct. 24

John Horgan meets with Lieutenant Governor to request vote

Mayor Taylor to ask Grand Forks council to develop Bare Ass Beach

Taylor says making the beach more accessible to public will discourage future trespassers

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

‘Unprecedented’ coalition demands end to B.C. salmon farms

First Nations, commercial fishermen among group calling for action on Cohen recommendations

Earthquake off coast of Washington recorded at 4.1 magnitude

The quake was recorded at a depth of 10 kilometres

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C.’s top doctor says she’s received abuse, death threats during COVID-19 response

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Vancouver Island sailor stranded in U.S. hospital after suffering massive stroke at sea

Oak Bay man was attempting to circumnavigate the world solo

Most Read