Fire Fighting in Canada

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L’Isle-Verte fire chaos: fire-safety co-ordinator

Nov. 18, 2014, Riviere-du-Loup, Que. - A regional fire-safety co-ordinator has described a scene of chaos when he arrived early one morning last January at a Quebec seniors' home where 32 people died.

Christian Chenard-Guay told a coroner's inquest today he arrived at the scene at 1 a.m. on Jan. 23, nearly 40 minutes after the alarm went off at the Residence du Havre in L'Isle-Verte.

Chenard-Guay says there was no command post, no evacuation measures in place and that the few firefighters on the scene were scattered about.

Many of the occupants in the 52-unit were over 85 and all but a handful had limited movement, being confined to wheelchairs and walkers.

The older part of the building, which was destroyed in the blaze, was built in 1997 and did not have an automatic sprinkler system, while the new wing did.

Coroner Cyrille Delage is expected to hear testimony from more than 50 witnesses this week and next at the courthouse in Riviere-du-Loup, northeast of Quebec City.