New cutline Colwood Fire Rescue anticipates a busy year ahead in 2021. (Katherine Engqvist/news Staff)

Colwood Fire Rescue (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)

New year off to a busy start for Colwood Fire Rescue

Most West Shore departments saw the normal number of calls over holidays

If the first week of the new year is a harbinger of things to come, 2021 will be a busy one for Colwood Fire Rescue.

Chief John Cassidy said a structure fire on Jan. 1 and lots of calls for medical assistance set the tone for what he expects will be a hectic year, adding that Jan. 3 was busy as well.

“Given the pace of development in Colwood and the West Shore, we expect most West Shore departments will be busy in 2021,” Cassidy noted. “The Colwood, Langford and View Royal departments have been working together in anticipation of it getting extremely busy.”

The overall numbers for 2020 were down a little, which Cassidy attributed in part to more people staying home due to COVID-19. The department dealt with fewer car crashes and chimney fires in 2020, but medical assistance calls were up.

Although the numbers for 2020 haven’t been finalized yet, Cassidy expects the totals to be similar to 2019.

There were fewer calls for commercial alarms because more people are working from home, he noted. Although he anticipated that may lead to a spike in residential calls, that wasn’t the case. “People are staying home but being extra careful,” Cassidy said.

View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst said staff and volunteer firefighters were kept busy between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1, including medical calls, overdoses and assisting Colwood Fire Rescue with a structure fire at 8:30 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Firefighters also had to deal with a suicide on Christmas Day. “Those are difficult calls at any time of the year for volunteers and career firefighters,” he noted. “Overdoses don’t take a break at Christmas. I hope more people take advantage of the help and resources that are available and wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.”

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Langford Fire Rescue Chief Chris Aubrey said the volume of calls for the holiday season was steady, but none were of a serious nature.

“We dealt with some issues on Dec. 21 because of the wind storm,” he said. “I’m sure it was the same for most departments on the Island. For the most part, it’s been a good start to 2021, nothing out of the ordinary that we don’t deal with on a steady basis. We haven’t had any issues with flooding so far.”

Langford Fire Rescue is currently assisting the West Shore RCMP with the search for a missing teen. “We want to get him home safe and sound,” Aubrey stressed.

Highlands Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dean Ford said the holiday season and start to the new year was uneventful for the most part. “Except for the day it snowed,” he said. “We had 26 calls, mostly hydro-related. Other than that, everyone staying home these days is keeping things quiet.”

Metchosin Fire Chief Stephanie Dunlop said it’s been a little on the quiet side in the rural community. “The amount of rain we’ve had lately has provided some different challenges, but overall it’s been pretty normal so far.”

Anyone who needs help for depression or other mental health issues can call the provincial suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-784-2433 or visit crisislines.bc.ca.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com