Incident reports
Written by Paul Dixon
Canada is a forested nation, with more than 400 million hectares of forest or about 10 per cent of the Earth’s total forest area. Every year, thousands of wildland fires burn across million of hectares. While these fires have not yet reached the level of recent fires in Australia or the U.S. southwest, they do affect thousands of people, have a significant impact on local and regional economies and clearly demonstrate the potential for a major disaster.
Written by Laura King
It’s ironic that Frank Lamie, Toronto’sdeputy chief for fire prevention and public education, was among the first on the scene of the massive Sunrise Propane explosion in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 10. Lamie, who lives in Thornhill, about 10 kilometres from the Sunrise Propane site in north Toronto, had been woken up just before 4 a.m. by the vibrations from the explosions, he believes.
Written by Laura King
Toronto Fire Services multi-level response praised by observers of massive explosion and fire
Written by Andrew A. Sanojca
Oromocto, N.B. – Finding water to use for firefighting operations can often be a challenge for fire departments. But, on occasion, firefighters find they have more than they need. Flooding along the St. John River in New Brunswick is an annual spring occurrence but rarely causes any significant damage. Such was not the case this year, when heavy rains and warm temperatures all combined with a heavier-than-normal snowfall to cause the worst flooding since 1973.
Written by John Hanley
It’s one thing to rescue someone trapped in a vehicle; it’s quite another when that vehicle is an armoured truck.

Under bright sunny skies on March 30, three workers were trapped in their Brinks truck after the armoured vehicle lost control southbound on Highway 427 in the northwest end of Toronto. The vehicle left the highway at about 2 p.m., crashed through a fence and landed on its side at the bottom of a large ditch.

“It’s like a bank vault on wheels,” said James Franks, captain of Toronto’s Rescue 412 (rescue pumper). “We knew this one was certainly going to be a challenge.”

Firefighters from Toronto Fire Services and EMS personnel from Peel Regional EMS work on a Brinks employee who had minor injuries after being rescued from a truck rollover near Toronto. The Brinks workers advised rescuers on the best method to get them out of the armoured vehicle.
A vehicle designed to withstand an explosion or gunfire provided crews with a very difficult extrication. The impact of the crash disabled the locking mechanisms in the armoured truck’s doors, trapping the three Brinks employees.  Rescuers knew that traditional extrication methods wouldn’t be successful because the vehicle had heavy steel doors and thick, bulletproof glass.

Gord Clark, captain of Toronto Fire Services Squad 445 (heavy rescue) immediately radioed Toronto Fire communications to update dispatchers on the situation and request that Brinks be notified and send a representative.

Because of the nature of the vehicle, it required two separate extrications: the driver and guard in the front cab of the vehicle; and a third Brinks employee trapped in the cargo area of the vehicle.

All three Brinks workers suffered minor injuries but were able to talk to rescue crews and instruct them on possible methods of extrication. Brinks workers suggested that the easiest way in would be through the glass windows.

With the possibility of disabling the locking systems on the armoured truck, it was decided to leave the vehicle’s battery connected. The vehicle needed little in the way of stabilizing as it was more or less a big steel box on its side.

The crew from Rescue 444 laid a charged hose line down to the accident scene and two members of the crew began assessing extrication of the third guard from the back of the vehicle.

Once it was determined that the doors were not going to unlock, crews began working on the glass of the vehicle as extrication points.

“The (windshield) glass had three layers to it,” said Gord Clark. “It was a three-step process to get through it.”

Crews working on the windshield chipped away the outer plastic-like layer of the glass. Using a sawzall, a small hole was then made. A Holmatro tool was then used to cut a larger hole in the glass.

While members from Squad 445 and Rescue 412 began to work on the front windshield, firefighter Josh Kramer of Rescue 444 used a sledgehammer to get through glass in the cargo area of the vehicle. Although the window Kramer was trying to breach was only about two feet by two feet, Rescue 444 acting captain Mike White estimated that the small window had about 25 kilograms of glass to it.

“It must have taken me a good 20 swings to get through that glass,” Kramer said.

The Brinks worker, trapped in the cargo area was the first to be feed.  He was pulled out through the small window onto the side of the vehicle.

All firefighters were quick to point out that had the three Brinks workers been unable to communicate with fire crews the extrication would have been much more difficult. Also, had the worker in the cargo area been unconscious or incapacitated in any way, the extrication would have become a confined-space rescue.

District Chief Jim McCracken added that because the injuries were not serious, crews had time on their side and were able to rescue the three workers safely.

“With (the workers only having) minor injuries, it was better to get them out safely than to rush things,” said McCracken. “There was no time wasted.”

After about an hour, all three Brinks employees had been extricated from the wreck. All three were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries. 

As a Plan B, crews brainstormed that cutting the hinges off the doors may have been an alternative had the glass been impenetrable. Rescuers were concerned, however, that tools used for the door removal might spark a fire.

Overall, crews took away new knowledge from this incident:

  • Avoid use of cutting tools such as welding torches as they can caused a fire…
  • Use gun holes in doors for communication with trapped staff.
  • Have every tool you may need on scene…sawzall, spreaders, cutters, etc.,
  • The quick decision to contact Brinks management was crucial to the timely extrication.
Written by Steve Sorensen
Just as Sooke volunteer firefighters prepared to enjoy dinner with their families on March 23, 2007, pagers alerted them to a reported structure fire. 
Written by Laura King
Just eight weeks after fires destroyed historic properties in Wasaga Beach and Barrie, Ont., a massive, six-alarm blaze tore through a block of Toronto’s Queen Street on Feb. 20, challenging firefighters and testing the limits of the Toronto Fire Service’s incident management system.

Written by Steve Sorensen
It was one of those typical, damp, west-coast fall evenings that was interrupted when the Sooke Fire Department in B.C. was toned out for a propane leak at a Payless gas station.
Written by Andrew Sanojca
Volunteer firefighters with the Musquash Fire Department in New Brunswick responded to a report of a structure fire at 11 Little Lepreau Rd. on Sunday, May 27, 2007.

Written by Laura King
Two massive fires in seven days destroyed historic properties in Wasaga Beach and Barrie, Ont. Hundreds of firefighters – some of whom were called through mutual aid to both blazes – fought the wind-whipped flames that destroyed part of the popular tourist strip in the resort town of Wasaga Beach on Nov. 30-Dec. 1 and the inferno that devastated the historic Wellington Hotel and several other buildings in Barrie on Dec. 7.
Written by Steven Sorensen
B.C. department learns lessons from devastating crash: Recommendations include keeping meticulous maintenance records
Written by Robert Lynch and Robert Seymour
While the fire that consumed the Andrews Warehouse in Bay Roberts, N.L., was too advanced to save, quick actions by the fire service in this community combined with a rapid deployment of foam streams ensured it would not reach another warehouse just 50 feet away.
Written by Robert Lynch
Newfoundland community on edge as town crumbles away
Written by Lorne Ulley
Major Montreal arteries closed while fire fought
Written by Rick Jefferson
Successful silo rescue highlights value of mutual aid and need for ongoing training
Written by Tom Mulvey
Two patients had to be extricated from two separate vehicles
Written by Lorne Ulley
A two-vehicle accident with injuries
Written by Monica Spencer
Successful Valentine’s Day ice water entrapment rescue highlights the importance of multi-agency response and one woman’s amazing will to live
Written by LORNE ULLEY
Exposure protection was priority after fire rapidly consumed large residence in Chateauguay, Que.
Balloon construction, numerous renovations hampered suppression of fire started by unwatched stove pot
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