Mar 14, 2019

Fire Chief Brett MikkelsenOn February 10, 2019 the Sidney Fire Department responded to a fire at the Port Sidney Marina. This was followed by a fire at the Cedar Grove Marina on March 1st in North Saanich.

I had heard of the specialized equipment and training that the Town of Sidney fire Department had developed to combat these types of fire emergencies. So, I headed up to Sidney to meet with Deputy Fire Chief Mike Harman and Fire Chief Brett Mikkelsen to find out more about their operations.

Chief Mikkelsen began the conversation by saying:

 

 


Marine Fire Equipment“The Marina Protection Trailer pre-dates both myself and Mike. It was put into service in 1994 or 1995 by Chief Dan Holder. At that time, it was an innovative way to respond to Marina fires. The need for the marine fire equipment was obvious with two of the largest yacht marinas in the West Coast of Canada being Van Isle Marina and Port Sidney with five other smaller marinas sprinkled around the Town of Sidney. I believe the original seed money for the trailer came from the Harbour Authority, Port Sidney and Van Isle Marina. The original idea was to have carts on the trailer that would help deploy 3-inch hoses up the docks. With up to a kilometer of hose and a small pump it was found that there wasn’t sufficient water flow to take on a fire from boats over 30 feet long.”

With a background in the boating industry from delivering 50 foot plus yachts to destinations around the world and having worked for Philbrooks, Chief Mikkelsen had a unique insight into what was needed to improve the marine fire service. The focus would be on rapid deployment. The trailer had originally been transported using a fire truck and as chief Mikkelsen pointed out was extremely difficult to navigate through marina parking lots with such large equipment. They now use a pickup truck to haul the trailer with its water pumps, hoses and fire equipment.


Portable Tohatsu Water PumpAbout the same time Tohatsu water pump became available, which is basically a 40 hp two-stroke outboard motor. This lightweight pump would be easy to deploy using the specially designed cards carts. They purchased two of these pumps at $20,000 each. With the two lightweight pumps they eliminated the need for long hoses as they could deploy the pumps within 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutes after arriving at the marina. The pumps and pump more than enough water through four 2 ½ inch hoses to quell a fire and with the added flow and capacity that the new pumps provided they can now produce foam to fight chemical fires.


Chief Mikkelsen pointed out that the marinas have been extremely supportive and have made modifications to their docks and entranceways to accommodate the fire equipment. Marinas also post notices for their customers to notify them when the marine unit is set to practice their skills. Boat owners are very supportive and often take the opportunity to invite friends to their boats to watch the activities of the firefighters.

Chief Mikkelsen summarized by saying: “With our rapid response time our first concern is life safety. It’s then followed by containing the fire and keeping the damage to a minimum. With many fires being contains in a section of the boat and to minimize damage to the yacht’s we also use CO2 extinguishers.”

http://www.sidney.ca/Town_Hall/Departments/Fire_Department.htm

Bob Nicoll

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