KFD learns from summer blaze

Last summer's industrial fire at Stewart Centre has shown just how far behind the Kelowna Fire Department is in terms of identifying hazardous areas within the city.

Newly hired fire chief Jeff Carlisle and assistant chief Jason Brolund brought forward a series of recommendations before City Council as a result of the July 31st fire which preceded a toxic chemical spill in Mill Creek.

"This incident and the after affects had a large impact on the city. Of course, it could have been far worse if not for the hard work of our firefighters, city crews, emergency responders, EOC staff and those remediation workers that came from across the country," says Brolund while addressing council.

"That said we learned a lot from this incident and that is why we are here today. We have a mandate to learn from what we do and what we face and develop best practices based on what we experience and what we learn."

Following a lengthy de-briefing process and at the request of council, Brolund brought forth a series of five recommendations.

These include:
  • Better pre-planning
  • better access to information including emergency maps, building information and emergency contacts
  • Stronger working relationship with other city departments
  • Incident Command training for all city departments
  • Enhancement to the Hazmat Program for chemical detection and particularly decontamination capabilities.
    Brolund acknowledged the fire department is behind in some areas specific to pre-planning and access to information.

    He says pre-plans for the Stewart Centre dated back to the 1980's.

    "Worksafe BC legislation requires that employers at these high consequence buildings provide the fire department with more information about the nature of their business, the layout and what we can expect to find there."

    Brolund says these are resource intensive problem.

    "We need a resource to develop this process to oversee its implementation and its function."

    At the present time, Brolund says the fire department does not have the budget to undertake the job.

    A budget item was presented to council during December budget deliberations, however, it was not approved for 2011.

    Council did agree to take another look at the budget request prior to final approval in May if the fire department deems it necessary for 2011.

    Chief Carlisle was asked to report back to council at a future date with possible budget requests.

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