Fire Fighting in Canada

Leaders need support on sprinklers


Leaders need support on sprinklers

There’s more anger today over the fatal fire at a seniors home in Orillia on Monday.

January 21, 2009 
By Laura King

As the Toronto Star reminds readers today (quoting
both Burke and Boyes), multi-storey residential buildings will be required to
have sprinklers starting in 2010 but unbelievably enough, there are loopholes in
the codes for private seniors residences. What are the next steps? Let’s
brainstorm on this and help the fire marshal and the OAFC in their efforts. Click
below to send your thoughts.

There’s more anger today over the fatal fire at a
seniors home in
Orillia on
Monday. In yesterday’s blog entry, I wondered if
Ontario Fire
Marshal Pat Burke and Richard Boyes, president of the Ontario Association of
Fire Chiefs, had bruises on their foreheads from banging their heads against
the wall in frustration over the sprinkler issue. Both have been flogging this
issue for years, so far with some success but clearly not enough.

I was on vacation in Nova
on Aug. 10 when all hell broke
loose in
Toronto but my
BlackBerry was buzzing with alerts about a fire and explosion in
Toronto. Early
that Sunday morning, Deputy Fire Chief Frank Lamie, who lives about 10
kilometres from the Sunrise Propane site, had been woken up, presumably by the
vibrations from the massive explosions.

You could have heard a pin drop in the room Tuesday
night as Laimie and Deputy Chief Darryl Fuglerud spoke to members of the Canadian
Fire Safety Association. The DCs showed pictures of the Sunrise site littered
with hundreds exploded propane tanks and canisters, and holes in a building 350
metres away caused by blasts that sent the ends of tanker trucks cannon balling
through the air.

The magnitude of the fire and explosions and the
dangers to firefighters was incredible. Firefighters didn’t know whether
propane storage tanks, cylinders and tanker trucks on the site were empty or
full of propane, they didn’t know how many containers were on the site and they
couldn’t find the owner of the company. Highway 401 was closed, GO Trains were
stopped, CN trains were halted and airplanes were grounded for fear that
exploding propane cylinders “that went off like rockets” metres into the air, could
hit one.

A review of the incident has resulted in 40 recommendations
around propane storage, handling and transport, 30 of which have been implemented
with the other 10 still being studied. The speed at which these regulations addressing
inspections, licensing, operations, qualifications and public interaction have
been adopted speaks to the magnitude of the issue and makes me wonder why dying seniors isn't seen as such a big deal. You can see the propane discussion
paper on the changes at

You can see updates on the recommendations at


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