Pager problem could reoccur

September 25, 2014

Why am I doing this blog with posts of articles I wrote and that were published in the past?

It is so my son and anyone else interested will have the opportunity to read these articles in the future. This is one of the positives of the internet. Blogs are a place where we can store things for people who want to read about the present or the past. Up until this point, archives have been a storage place for dusty documents but now we can preserve things online.

Now that I am travelling and house sitting full time, I need to let go of the dusty documents that I have contributed in the past. Yet as someone who majored in history in university and who has always enjoyed discovering the past– which in some ways helps us all make a better future–I want to make my written contributions in the past to be available to anyone who wishes to read them and use them as part of their own research whether personal, academic or otherwise.

So back to the articles. This one is about electronics. Maybe more so than anywhere else, electricity and electronics, in general, often go haywire on small islands. When I house sat on Thetis Island, a sparsely populated Gulf island near Chemainus on Vancouver Island, the day could be brilliantly sunny without a cloud in the sky and suddenly the electricity would go off and often for hours.

At least on Salt Spring Island, there usually needs to be rain and wind for the hydro to go out. Not that this is anymore convenient. Last house sit I did on Salt Spring, I was having a shower around 8 pm when all went black. I managed to rinse my hair, towel off, get into my night gown and crawl into bed. Only to be rudely awaken at around 1:30 am to the brilliance of every light bursting on in the open area main floor where my bedroom was.

The following area is not about electricity going off but about pager problems in times of emergency:

Gulf Islands Driftwood– Pender Edition
August 2, 2000
Pager problem could reoccur
by Tanya Lester

Pagers failing to emit a tone signal when firefighters were called to a fire on the Canada Day weekend was a rare occurrence but one that could happen more often in the future.

Brian Copp said the electronics malfunction has never occurred before in his 14 years as a communications manager at the Langford Fire Department. It is responsible for activating signals for 19 fire departments including that on North Pender.

Copp explained that a 911 call from Salt Spring activated a pager signal to firefighters on that island at 10:27 p.m. on Sunday, July 2.

Right on its heels came a 911 call from Razor Point Road on North Pender with the signal going out at 10:31 p.m.

Most Pender firefighters, including acting fire chief Charlie Boyte, had their pager monitors on and heard the voice message concerning the fire’s location.

But five firefighters had turned off their pager monitors, so they would hear only the tone if there were a call. It was that tone they didn’t hear.

“It is assumed the activity on the radio system, because of the Salt Spring call, may have interfered with the initial paging to the North Pender fire department,” said Copp.

He pointed out there is no absolute proof that this is what happened as electronic systems can occasionally fail.

Copp did say that with population increases and more people aware of and able to call 911 from their cell phones, for example, the 11-year-old system is getting busier.

This could mean a repeat of the signal failure.

Copp said Langford officials are aware that a new system might be needed for the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands area.

Efforts are currently under way to obtain estimates for a new system better suited to handling the higher level of emergency calls.
To read the first posts in this blog, go to
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or go to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy the book at


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