Whitehorse Fire Department Chief Michael Dine, left, and fire prevention officer Wayne Smyth speak to media outside the Whitehorse courthouse Sept. 18 after the Days Inn was fined $1,500 for not complying with an order to repair faulty emergency lighting. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News)

Whitehorse Days Inn fined $1,500 for failing to fix faulty emergency lighting

The hotel did not fix the lights within the deadline given by the Whitehorse Fire Department

A Whitehorse hotel must pay a $1,500 fine after failing to fix faulty emergency lighting in its building earlier this year, despite being ordered to do so by the Whitehorse Fire Department.

Lawyer Jennie Cunningham entered a guilty plea on behalf of the Days Inn hotel, located at 2288 Second Ave., in territorial court the morning of Sept. 18 to one count of violating Whitehorse’s emergency services bylaw.

The hotel failed to comply with an order to remedy a hazardous condition — specifically, to fix several emergency lighting fixtures that either did not work or did not properly illuminate a hallway, according to facts fire prevention officer Wayne Smyth read to the court afterwards.

The situation came to the fire department’s attention following a blackout on July 24, Smyth said. The next day, a guest complained to officials that, during the blackout, emergency lighting and exit signs did not light up.

An inspection by fire officials July 31 found that three emergency lighting banks, including one near the elevator on the main floor and two outside or in between rooms, did not work, and that one emergency lighting bank outside a room was not properly positioned to illuminate the hallway.

The fire department issued an order that afternoon to Days Inn maintenance personnel to fix the situation in seven days, and also showed and explained the order to the hotel owner.

However, when the fire department inspected the Days Inn again on Aug. 7, Smyth said, it found that none of the issues had been addressed.

The Days Inn has since fixed the emergency lights in question, Cunningham told the court.

Judge Karen Ruddy accepted a joint submission for a fine of $1,500.

The Days Inn will have 21 days to pay the fine.

The maximum punishment for violating the emergency services bylaw is a $10,000, six months’ imprisonment or both.

Speaking to media afterwards, Smyth said that the situation, before it was rectified, was “extremely disconcerting.”

“No matter where you go in North America, there’s an expectation that if you’re in a public place like a hotel or a restaurant or a bar, if the power goes off or if there’s a problem … emergency lighting will kick in,” he said.

“The purpose of emergency lighting, of course, is that it allows you to find your path to the exit … You need to be able to get out in a hurry without having to fumble around in the darkness.”

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

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