Firefighter Cody Brown with the dated jaws of life tool the Oak Bay Fire Department plans to replace this year after fundraising in the community to raise the needed $25

Gracepoint premier benefits firefighters

Oak Bay News co-hosts the Gracepoint premier on Oct. 2 at Oak Bay United Church. Tickets are $25 each or two for $40

One might not correlate sipping champagne and watching a big budget television premier with life-saving equipment, but that’s the exact goal of the upcoming Gracepoint premier at Oak Bay United Church.

“The News staff is happy to help out with such a great fundraising initiative and at the same time bring a little Hollywood glamour and excitement to Oak Bay,” says Oak Bay News editor Laura Lavin.

Oak Bay’s aging Jaws of Life, needs a new life of its own. Modern versions of the same equipment provide a much broader spectrum of capabilities, says Fire Chief Dave Cockle.

“The current piece of equipment we have here in the department is mid-1990s,” Cockle says.

“It’s a single action tool with a cutter/spreader action. The hydraulics are 6,000 psi which doesn’t allow spreading and quick cutting of metal in today’s cars.”

Modern cars are designed, for safety reasons, to crumple around the passenger and driver compartment, he explains. While it makes for a more safe crash, and more people walk away, it also means the need for extraction gear is greater.

“We have more vehicles we have to cut,” Cockle says, adding they can also be hindered by exotic metals designed for strength and weight that replace standard steel vehicles.

The current tool gets the job done in three or four minutes and requires up to three firefighters to do what could take seconds with one firefighter.

“Our current cutting tools don’t do the job,” Cockle says. “It’s just so much faster. It keeps us within our golden hour of getting someone to help if we have to.”

The Kiwanis club of Oak Bay has funded about $12,000 of the estimated $25,000 cost, with the rest coming from the community.

“The community itself has raised approximately $9,000 already. That’s through the work of Liz at Athlone Travel,” Cockle says. “It’s nice when the community comes together to raise funds for something that will benefit everyone.”

For Liz Smith, also the president of the Oak Bay BIA, the fundraising idea started with an Oak Bay News story about a year ago. One of her client’s husband had died, and feeling a debt to the fire department that had responded to her calls for medical aid prior to his death, she bought the department a portable defibrillator.

“We decided our Christmas project last year would be to raise funds and recalled the fire department and asked for a wish list,” Smith says. Athlone Travel raised nearly $10,000 for items such as infrared camera to replace a 10-year-old one and replaced an equally outdated gas sniffer and then just didn’t stop fundraising.

“We have people who’ve come into the office and said ‘Here’s $20. We want the (fire department) to come to my house with the best equipment they need,’” Smith says.

The fundraiser Cockle hopes will put funding over the top is the Gracepoint premier party at Oak Bay United Church, which donated the space for the event.

The evening features the first episode of the TV series filmed in Oak Bay, as well as a few words from Kathleen Gilbert from the Victoria Film Commission.

“It’s just going to be a really fun evening and we’re going to be doing some really good things raising some funds for the fire department,” Smith says.

Champagne and hors d’oeuvres start at 6 p.m. with the commercial-free premier viewing of the first episode of Gracepoint starting at 7 p.m.

Get your tickets today

Oak Bay News co-hosts the Gracepoint premier on Oct. 2 at Oak Bay United Church. Tickets are $25 each or two for $40 available at Athlone Travel (250-598-5252) or Oak Bay News (250-858-9189) both located in Athlone Court.