Dawson firefighters call inspection’s validity into question

The Dawson City Firefighters Association is calling into question an inspection done by the Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office that found serious health and safety concerns.

The Dawson City Firefighters Association is calling into question an inspection done by the Yukon Fire Marshal’s Office that found serious health and safety concerns with how the Dawson City Fire Department is run.

Two weeks ago the News reported on an FMO inspection report that highlighted a number of issues with the department.

The inspection found all the fire department’s self-contained breathing apparatuses failed tests performed by the FMO.

The FMO also found the department has kept few records on inspection, training and investigations.

But now the Dawson City Firefighters Association says four of the 12 self-breathing devices originally tested passed an independent test done by a certified facility. Four more packs are on their way to Vancouver to be tested.

At no time the lives of Dawsonites were put at risk, senior captain Gerry Crayford told the News yesterday.

“We’ve been here a hundred years and we certainly would never put our lives or anybody else’s in danger,” he said.

Crayford said he agrees the department can improve its recordkeeping practices, but said public safety is not at risk.

“In my world, record-keeping, it’s basically ass-covering,” he said. “It’s to say we’ve trained people.”

And training does happen weekly, he added.

“You wouldn’t have anybody come to the fire hall and sit around and drink coffee or beer or whatever.”

The DCFD has 32 volunteer firefighters plus the fire chief, who is a paid employee of the city.

The city called in the fire marshal last March to do business inspections because the fire chief was away, according to the inspection report.

It was around that time that fire chief Jim Regimbal was suspended. He was later reinstated.

“When a fire department is without a fire chief the CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) does have the additional responsibility and it’s in that regard that I ask for the FMO to advise if the City was operationally up-to-date on safety matters,” CAO André Larabie told the News today.

In the inspection the FMO noted it was also tasked to “review the administration of the DCFD.”

But Crayford said they weren’t aware the FMO was there to audit them.

He questioned why the FMO couldn’t have waited for the fire chief, who knows where records are kept, to come back.

The inspection report makes numerous mentions of difficulties with locating department records.

Dawson City Mayor Wayne Potoroka echoed Crayford’s sentiment in a letter to the News today.

“The FMO official might have had more success in locating reports if the fire chief or a senior member of the fire department had been present during the walkthrough,” Potoroka wrote.

Both Potoroka and Crayford agree the department can improve its record-keeping practices.

That was actually identified as one of the priorities in a 10-year strategic plan passed by city council last December, Crayford noted.

The purchase of new self-contained breathing apparatuses was also included in the new strategic plan.

“Until the new equipment’s arrival, the firefighters, who always understood the limitations of their packs, were following the advice of the FMO and only planning to use the equipment during interior operations after the incident commander has made a ‘calculated risk analysis’ of the situation,” Potoroka wrote.

“Thankfully, that has not been necessary to date.”

Crayford told the News new self-contained breathing apparatuses were ordered because the current ones are over 10 years old. But the old ones were still safe to use, he said.

“Those packs are our lives,” he said.

Potoroka also said the leak of the inspection report “did nothing to improve the safety of our residents” and may have been an attempt to smear the fire department’s reputation.

“This leak of information might have sought to discredit the DCFD, but it has only served to remind us of how thankful and fortunate we are for their service.”

The Department of Community Services, which oversees the fire marshal’s office, told the News that acting fire marshal Kevin Taylor wasn’t available yesterday for an interview.

“The fire marshal’s office presented a factual report and recommendations for action to the City of Dawson,” spokesperson Amanda Couch told the News in an email. “This is now a matter for the City of Dawson.”

When asked whether Taylor or anybody from the department would be available to speak today, Couch sent the News the same statement again.

When asked why the FMO couldn’t wait for Regimbal to be back, Couch said the department didn’t have anything more to add.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

The now empty lot at 410 Cook Street in Whitehorse on Jan. 19. As developers move forward with plans for a housing development that would feature 16 micro-units, they are asking city council for a zoning change that would reduce the number of required parking spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Developer asks for zoning change

Would reduce the number of required parking spaces

The Liard First Nation is preparing to enter negotiations for self-governance with the territorial and federal governments. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
Liard First Nation preparing to enter self-governance negotiations with Yukon, federal governments

Chief Stephen Charlie seeking an agreement separate from “dead end” UFA


Wyatt’s World for Jan. 20, 2021

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Most Read