Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 27, 2014 - 7:41 am

In 2013, Iqaluit saw no fire-related fatalities, fire chief says

Year 2013 ranks as first year in five years with no fire deaths

DAVID MURPHY
Flames pour from a rowhouse unit at Iqaluit's Creekside Village complex on the evening of Feb. 26, 2012. By the morning of Feb. 27, fire had claimed two lives, destroyed 22 housing units and caused millions of dollars worth of damages. But in 2013, no fire-related deaths were recorded in Iqaluit and fires caused only $371,445 in damages. (FILE PHOTO)
Flames pour from a rowhouse unit at Iqaluit's Creekside Village complex on the evening of Feb. 26, 2012. By the morning of Feb. 27, fire had claimed two lives, destroyed 22 housing units and caused millions of dollars worth of damages. But in 2013, no fire-related deaths were recorded in Iqaluit and fires caused only $371,445 in damages. (FILE PHOTO)

For the first time in at least five years, nobody in Iqaluit died due to a fire in 2013.

That’s just one of the many hopeful statistics that fire chief Luc Grandmaison presented to Iqaluit city council on June 24.

Reading from the Iqaluit fire department’s 2013 annual statistical report, Grandmaison said the fire and ambulance department responded to 1,860 incidents that year

Most of those incidents — 1,516 — were ambulance runs, and 344 were fire alarms.

In 2013, there were 58 fires, 12 more than the previous year, with a total loss of $371,445 in damages.

In 2012, the fire department notched 46 fires with a whopping $9,253,665 in total loss damages — mostly due to the massive Creekside Village fire.

But that means in 2013 Iqaluit’s fire rate per 1,000 people was 8.1. To put that in perspective, the British Columbia average for fires between 1997 and 2006 was only 1.6 per cent.

In 2012 Iqaluit registered a 6.4 per cent fire rate per 1,000 people.

Grandmaison pointed out that the fire department is containing building fires mostly in the rooms the fire started in.

For the 23 house fires that occurred in 2013, 65 per cent of the time the fire department contains a fire at the source of origin.

And 26 per cent of the time, the fire is contained inside the building.

There was only one occasion, in November of 2013, that a fire spread to another building.

City councillor Stephen Mansell congratulated the fire department on containing the fires. 

“For the longest time growing up here, as I can remember, when something caught on fire, it burned down,” Mansell said.

Smoking materials or open flames such matches started most of the 58 fires this year —26. 

There were eight injuries to civilians and firefighters in 2013. Five of those injuries were suffered by firefighters.

In total, the emergency service dispatch received 43,126 calls last year — an average of 118 calls per day. That is 11,701 more calls than in 2012.

At the end of the presentation, Coun. Terry Dobbin asked Grandmaison if there’s any psychological help available for emergency responders when they attend to tragedies, such as suicides.

Grandmaison said there is help for the workers in the form of an employee assistance program.

But he said a few months ago he had talks of getting more psychological access from outside the community as well.

“It is very hard for them. They see lots of tragedy, really. And that’s a fact,” Grandmaison said.

The fire chief said he’s been in discussions about bringing in more “neutral” help to those emergency responders who need it.

“They would dial a number to get outside help, not from local people. I believe that’s what’s missing for us to help us out,” Grandmaison said. 

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