Fire prevention officer Wayne Smyth talks to media outside the Whitehorse court house on May 15, following a court proceeding involving a local apartment complex company. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse apartment owner pleads guilty to violating fire safety rules

Tummel Holdings, which owns Skyline Apartments in Riverdale, pleaded guilty to two charges May 15

A company that owns an apartment complex in Whitehorse pleaded guilty May 15 to two charges related to failing to comply with fire safety measures.

Tummel Holdings Ltd., which owns the Skyline Apartments at 37 Lewes Blvd., entered guilty pleas to one count each of failing to provide assistance to the fire chief during an inspection, a violation of Whitehorse’s Emergency Services bylaw, and failing to keep a record of the installation and replacement of safety alarms, a violation of the territorial Fire Prevention Act.

The charges relate to an inspection undertaken on March 12.

Fire prevention officer Wayne Smyth withdrew a third charge of failing to comply with the fire code.

Speaking to media after the court proceedings, Smyth said that, on the day of the fire safety inspection, no one from Tummel Holdings showed up at the property, and the company also did not keep a record of its smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Laying charges under the Fire Prevention Act is “very rare,” Smyth said, adding that Tummel Holdings had been convicted under the act last year as well.

“It’s very unusual that we would have to go to this extreme measure to get compliance,” he said. “We will work with a client or a building owner as much as we can in order to gain compliance, but in this particular case we were unable to gain compliance through normal measures, and so we elected to proceed with charges.”

Normally, fire officials can get compliance by just issuing a verbal warning, Smyth said. If that doesn’t work, officials issue a written warning and, if that fails, an order to comply.

“That happened a couple of times in this case… the situation was serious enough that we had to take this measure to ensure that the safety of the residents in the building,” he said.

“We’re concerned about smoke alarms, of course, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, exit lights, fire alarm systems, those are all critical pieces of a structure that are required, especially when we’re talking about large apartment buildings.”

Acting Fire Chief Chris Green, who was also present in court May 15, added that there have been fires at the Skyline Apartments in the recent past.

“This has been problematic for us for some time now, so we figured that this would be the best approach to resolve issues that we’ve been dealing with in the past now,” Green said.

Smyth added that Tummel Holdings has “taken action” since the charges were laid and have since complied with regulations.

“They are, on a daily basis, ensuring the safety of the people that live in that building now, so we are very pleased with the way things have progressed in the last month or so,” he said.

Tummel Holdings is scheduled to be sentenced May 22.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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