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Port Moody firefighters' $9K tree chipping fundraiser doubled as community safety campaign

The local department sent more than 1,000 natural trees through the woodchipper in one of its more successful efforts in recent years.

Who knew sending a Christmas tree through a wood chipper can be both entertaining and informative?

Members of Port Moody Fire Rescue (PMFR) managed to do just that over the New Year's weekend while raising more than $9,000 for the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund.

The minimum donation was $5 per tree.

About 1,000 natural trees were brought to the Inlet Centre fire hall (150 Newport Dr.) by residents, who remained in their vehicles while wearing face masks in complying with safety guidelines in place by the department amid COVID-19.

Firefighters removed the trees, sent the big ones through the wood chipper — some as high as 8' tall — and burned smaller ones for the children.

"It's a lot of fun. This year, we were able to take a child's tree and burn it and show the parents how quickly a tree will burn if it's inside of a house," said PMFR spokesperson Jeffrey Scallion in an interview with the Tri-City News.

Scallion represents Port Moody firefighters when it comes to BC Burn Fund events.

He explains the educational component of the tree chipping event, while it may not be top of mind to participants, resonates this time of year as some residents may keep holiday candles close by for decorations.

However, Scallion says this could lead to a significant fire if not handled carefully.

"Historically, people have even used candles to light a Christmas tree in the past. So we want people to get away from that and use things that are more intrinsically safe. You know, like an LED light. And of course, when you go to bed, unplug those lights just in case."

The 2022 tree chipping fundraiser was held on Jan. 1 and 2, with nearly 25 total firefighters pitching in to help with the cause, including Scallion himself.

He adds the outing was actually down from last year's event, which is believed to be because of the snowfall and colder temperatures over the New Year's weekend that saw the mercury drop below -20 C with windchill.

However, PMFR is grateful the community was able to continue to support the BC Burn Fund.

"It's certainly one of our most cherished charities; they do a tremendous amount of work for children who have survived burn injuries," Scallion remarked.

"They have their burn trauma and plastics unit, Vancouver General Hospital, and every summer they host kids their burn camp. So it really means a lot for us as firefighters to support everything they do any way we can."

According to the BC Burn Fund, more than 1,200 children aged six to 18 have attended the Camp for Young Burn Survivors since 1994.