Cowichan Valley firefighters raising money for new Fire Safety House

Firefighters will be collecting donations this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at grocery stores in Ladysmith and Chemainus.

Firefighters in the Cowichan Valley are hoping to buy a new Fire Safety House to teach more people what to do if they find themselves inside a burning building by next spring.

And to raise the money to buy this new Fire Safety House, the Cowichan Valley Fire Prevention Association (CVFPA), which serves 18 fire halls between North Oyster and the Malahat, is having its first helmet drive this month.

Fire departments from all around the Cowichan Valley will be collecting donations to raise funds for a new Fire Safety House.

The current house is unreliable and only accessible to children, explained Meghan Bailey, a firefighter in Crofton.

“The one we hope to purchase later this fall will be accessible to all age ranges and be a better learning tool to teach citizens what to do should they be inside a burning building,” she noted.

This Saturday (Sept. 15) firefighters will be at Ladysmith Safeway, Ladysmith 49th Parallel Grocery Store, Chemainus Foods and Chemainus 49th Parallel Grocery Store from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. trying to fill their helmets with donations.

The helmet drive is like the firefighters’ well-known boot drive for Muscular Dystrophy, but for a different cause.

Bailey says the new Fire Safety House the CVFPA is hoping to purchase costs $55,000, and the CVFPA is about $30,000 short. The CVFPA hopes to raise the $30,000 by the end of October so that it can purchase the new Fire Safety House and have it fully operational for next spring.

The current Fire Safety House was built 30 years ago, and one of the main issues is that it is too heavy, explained Bailey.

“It costs a lot to maintain, and right now, it has to be towed by a tow truck … we can’t get it to every location,” she said. “It’s small up in the area we use in the house; we can get a firefighter up there with a group of kids, but we can’t get a group of seniors or people with mobility issues up there.”

Bailey says the new Fire Safety House would serve the same purpose to help teach the public about fire safety and teach people how to safely exit a burning building, but it would be more accessible and more portable.

“It will be wheelchair-accessible, so we’ll be able to serve everybody,” she said. “It will be light so we can tow it with a truck, and everyone will be able to get into it.”

It costs about $1,500 a year to maintain the current Fire Safety House, but the new one would only cost about $200 a year, added Bailey.