The Yukon is looking for alternatives for its antiquated fire alarm pull stations, says fire marshal Marty Dobbin.
The alarms are used in eight communities.
Last week, two people died in a house fire in Ross River. The community’s pull station was used by a bystander, but failed to alert firefighters to the blaze. The bystander then phoned the volunteer fire department.
The alarm broke down in January and it cannot be repaired, said Dobbin.
The radio-pager system is the primary system, said Dobbin, but the incident does question whether people still think the alarms make a difference.
“They can no longer be repaired because we can no longer get parts for them,” said Dobbin.
The fire marshal hires a company, Total Fire, to perform inspections on the fire department’s equipment. Total Fire is still considering which technology will replace the aging pull-stations.
“We’re in a transitional period where we can’t fix the alarm,” said Dobbin.
“We haven’t found the new technology that we’re going to use, so I think it would be premature to go in there and start tearing pull stations off of telephone poles, especially in the middle of winter,”
“The community fire alarm is a redundant system because we’ve got the radio-pager system,” he said. “I think the community was aware the alarm was down; it was down in January.”
Ross River, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing, Carcross, Keno City, Burwash Landing, Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek all have the pull stations. A pull station in Old Crow failed in May 2007 after a
house fire broke out.
Dobbin didn’t know the exact age of the alarm systems.
“I’m guessing they’re probably older than 20 years,” he said.
While the pull stations are “out of service,” Total Fire is waiting for information from equipment suppliers in order to determine how the pull stations will be replaced.
It might be with similar pull station equipment, or telephones might be used, said Dobbin.
Getting results from suppliers takes a while, so it’s hard to “hold (the company) to a deadline,” said Dobbin.
Two bodies were found at the Ross River fire scene and they have been sent to Vancouver for autopsies. Jennifer Glada and Terry Peters were in the house and have been missing since the fire.
Dobbin didn’t know how much time passed between the emergency call and the arrival of firefighters on the scene. Four arrived at the scene initially, and two more joined them afterward.
“The house was destroyed by the fire, there’s very little left of it,” said Dobbin.
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