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Structure fire, rescue and false alarms keep Sicamous firefighters busy

Wood chip fire at landfill and faulty alarm system cause of most problematic calls
The Sicamous fire department responded to 89 calls in 2022, including 18 false alarms from Dec. 2022 to Feb. 1, 2023. (Black Press file photo)

False alarms made up much of what’s kept Sicamous firefighters busy since December.

At the Feb. 22 council meeting, Fire Chief Brett Ogino presented an update for the department since December 2022, as the department enters its 70th year providing fire protection and rescue services.

The department has 17 firefighters, all paid on-call except for Ogino, the full-time chief.

Last year the fire department saw 89 calls for service, and Ogino said that was pretty much in line based on years past.

From December 2022 to Feb. 1, 2023, the department responded to 12 false alarms in December, five in January and one in February. Most of the false alarms in December and January were from the Haven seniors’ housing complex, and Ogino said he and his team were unsure why at first. The department and the fire alarm company looked at the alarm system multiple times, he said, before finally replacing it in January. There had been no calls from the Haven since.

There was one local structure fire in January and one fire in Malakwa in December where Sicamous provided mutual aid. The department responded to two vehicle incidents in this period, one on the Bruhn Bridge and one on Jessop Road.

Other calls included a broken water pipe at Eagle River Secondary on Christmas morning and a Swansea Point ice rescue in January.

A call from the Sicamous landfill regarding a fire burning in a wood chip pile took time to resolve, as Ogino said the landfill employees wanted to handle it on their own and let it smolder for a long period of time, hoping it would extinguish itself. Ogino said this was particularly problematic due to heavy smoke and ash being generated, and he wished they would have let the fire department handle it as they could have put it out much faster.

The department trains its members on Tuesday nights, with additional training on weekends as necessary. All members are getting trained to National Fire Protection Association certification level 1001, with senior members training to level 1002 for drivers and pump operators. Extra training for wild land firefighting, structure protection, hazardous materials response, swift water and ice rescue is also encouraged and provided to members in-house.

Information about fires and rescues is shared on the Sicamous fire department’s Facebook and on

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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