Central Saanich and Sidney fire crews responded to a fire in the 6300-block of Central Saanich Road on April 16. During the past two months, the region has seen a number of structure fires. (Central Saanich Fire/Twitter)

Sidney fire responds to fewer but more severe calls during pandemic

Rise in severity linked to changes in routine during COVID-19 pandemic

Sidney’s fire department has responded to fewer but more severe calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is the message from Brett Mikkelsen, chief of the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Management Coordinator.

“The actual total number of responses is down significantly,” he said. “The number of actual structure fire events and higher acuity calls are significantly up. So we are doing less calls, but the calls are much more exciting, let’s say.”

The lack of personal protection equipment meant that the fire department was no longer responding to medical aid calls along side ambulance crews unless calls involved a cardiac arrest or a narcotic overdose, said Mikkelsen. “That was about 50 per cent of our calls,” he said, adding these restrictions will be relaxed in the near future.

RELATED: Sunday fire causes extensive damage to Central Saanich home

RELATED: Two firefighters injured in late Thursday night fire in Central Saanich

RELATED: Friday night fire at Brewskys Taphouse caused by cleaning rags left on a dryer

Significant calls during the pandemic have included several structure fires, in Sidney and elsewhere on Saanich Peninsula, by way of the department’s mutual aide agreements with North Saanich and Central Saanich.

Perhaps the most significant was the incident at North Saanich Marina on May 10 that killed one man in his 50s and injured two more individuals following an explosion and fire on a boat.

RELATED: Police believe North Saanich marina fire that killed man in his 50s started on boat

So what accounts for the heightened severity of calls? While Mikkelsen says the answer to that question requires more research, one possibility might be that the pandemic has changed people’s routines.

“We did a fire in a suite in Sidney where an elderly lady decided to bake bread,” he said. “It was the first time she had baked bread in 40 years, because she was out of her routine. So when people get out of their routine, they start doing different things. I don’t know how scientific that is, but appears to be the prevailing wisdom.”

Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner



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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Metchosin bird card project finds its wings

On display at Metchosin ArtPod from July 10 to 12

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read