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OH&S find 15 issues with fire halls

After an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) inspection of Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority (BRFA) fire halls Dec. 9 and 10, results indicate 15 orders and areas of concern.

After an Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) inspection of Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority (BRFA) fire halls Dec. 9 and 10, results indicate 15 orders and areas of concern.

“I don't see a big challenge addressing those items that were identified,” said BRFA board member Mayor Ernie Isley, explaining how some have already been taken care of.

Some simpler ones, such as the observation about loose items on the floor, he said he imagined to have been picked up.

The report stated that “OHS officers observed firefighter personal protective equipment that was in poor condition.”

A separate order stated that “OHS officers observed that with some personal protective equipment (PPE) there was no documentation to indicate it is being inspected or maintained properly in accordance with the manufacture's specifications.”

Isley said he is concerned more with the status of firefighters' protective equipment than some of the other issues. At the BRFA meeting Dec. 9, it was revealed that some equipment was out-of-date and that the BRFA did not have an inventory of the gear.

Isley said the BRFA was to be presented with a completed inventory at a meeting scheduled for last week. The meeting was cancelled due to the Bonnyville Hotel fire and the inventory will be reviewed this week, he said.

“The fitting of the (air) masks, would be another more serious one which I'm sure will be addressed very shortly,” he added.

The report revealed there were no fit test records available to review. It also revealed no hazard assessment reports or OH&S legislation were available to review.

Isley said he believes he saw an invoice indicating the storage units for holding air bottles were ordered, as required, and that OH&S rulebooks for work stations were also ordered. Air testing had also already been done.

The report also revealed that “documented inspections of emergency vehicles were not available at all stations,” not all material safety data sheets were available, and a respiratory protective equipment code of practice was not available as required.

The report also stated when firefighters use chainsaws, protective equipment is needed, and that a formal training program that is required for firefighters responding to confined space emergencies does not exist.

The BRFA requested the OH&S inspection after safety issues were brought forward at the Dec. 9 meeting. Fifteen Bonnyville firefighters walked out a couple of weeks ago over the safety concerns and the termination of elected deputy chief James Sharun. They asked for the termination of the three members of the BRFA. The entire La Corey fire hall walked out in support of the Bonnyville firefighters.

The BRFA had asked the La Corey fire hall to return to active duty. The 15 Bonnyville firefighters who handed in their pagers were asked to re-apply for their positions.

Isely said five La Corey firefighters that went off-duty have since returned. He said he did not think any of the Bonnyville firefighters who walked out re-applied.

Nineteen Bonnyville firefighters with a collective 150 years of experience, some of which re-joined after the others walked out, remained on duty, according to a press release issued by the active firefighters.