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Letters  

Construction fires

The recent huge, catastrophic fire at the condo construction site near Kelowna's Mission Creek can be a valuable warning, or we can choose to ignore it.  My hope is that the new provincial government will use the lessons learned there to update the Fire Code to better protect us all.

One of the things I came to realize during 30 years as a firefighter was that the most vulnerable time for the total fire-loss of any wood-frame building is during construction.  These destructive fires are far too common!  While there was, thankfully, no deaths this time, there will be large costs for all of us to pay. The builder's insurance will probably cover them, but the expense to that insurance company will be passed onto all of their customers.  The extra costs run up by our Kelowna Fire Department will have to be paid by all of us taxpayers.  Displaced residents nearby face the greatest hardship.  The environmental damage was enormous.

The firefighters there did an excellent job under extremely difficult conditions.  In order to minimize the chances of another catastrophic fire like this one, I urge our provincial government to make the changes below to the BC Fire Code for all wood-frame, multi-unit buildings under construction:

- Require that the fire-sprinkler system be functional at the earliest opportunity, during construction.  Currently the sprinklers are only required to be functional just before the residents move into the building.  If they'd been functional at this site, the damage would have been greatly reduced.

-  Require the builder to have 24/7 security staff on-site to also monitor for fire, and for them to be trained to use fire extinguishers provided by the builder.  This requirement would reduce the severity of any fire prior to the arrival of the Fire Department. 

Al Janusas



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