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    Default "PS buildings' safety in doubt after woman stuck during fire"- from the Ottawa Citize

    PS buildings' safety in doubt after woman stuck during fire
    20 years since last municipal inspections


    Vito Pilieci
    The Ottawa Citizen

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    More than 2,600 federal government buildings in the city of Ottawa have not been subjected to regular municipal fire safety inspections for almost 20 years, according to the city's deputy chief of fire services.

    And the safety of those buildings is now being called into question after a disabled woman was trapped in a downtown building after a fire broke out in January, Bruce Montone said.

    The 20-year lapse in fire safety inspections has been caused by a lengthy turf war between the federal government and the city's fire department. The Department of Public Works and the Treasury Board have argued that municipal fire codes and fire bylaws have no relevance on federal property.

    As a result, the federal government has created its own fire safety codes while turning away city fire safety inspectors since the mid-'80s.

    However, deficiencies in the federal government's fire safety plans became evident during an incident at L'Esplanade Laurier, the complex at 300 Laurier Ave., on Jan. 22.

    The details of the incident were outlined in a memo, obtained by the Citizen, sent to officials at Treasury Board by Ottawa Fire Services.

    On that day, a Saturday, a woman in a wheelchair was working alone on the building's 8th floor when a fire broke out in a garbage chute.

    The building's security guards left, leaving the woman trapped. The fire was quickly extinguished by firefighters and the woman was not hurt.

    The security officers later claimed they were never informed of any fire plans that required them to help employees leave the building in a fire.

    In the memo sent to Treasury Board, the city's fire department warns that "in the interest of public and occupational safety, Ottawa Fire Services urges that compliance (with fire safety regulations) be achieved immediately and a detailed summary of your action be supplied."

    The memo states that the city's Building Fire Safety Plan is not recognized or implemented in buildings run by Treasury Board, that staff have not been properly instructed when it comes to emergency fire measures, that there are insufficient staff on duty at off-hour times to properly implement a fire safety plan, and that Treasury Board was not able to supply records of emergency fire plan training.

    News of the safety deficiencies has angered officials at the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union representing more than 100,000 federal government workers across the country.

    "The incident in January, where the woman was left abandoned in the building that was on fire, is a real tragedy," said Ed Cashman, regional executive vice-president for PSAC in the capital region. "And here is this dispute, whether (city fire officials) can go into the building or not. We can't wait until there is a further tragedy."

    Deputy Chief Montone said yesterday he cannot vouch for the safety of the 2,600 federal government buildings in the city of Ottawa.

    "Because we have never been in them I can't speak to that," he said. "I wouldn't want to suggest that of all those buildings we don't know anything about them, that wouldn't be fair. Particularly the high-risk buildings, because we have personal working relationships with staff, we know what's there. But, it has been very ad-hoc."

    No one at Public Works or Treasury Board was able to comment last night.

    However, Deputy Chief Montone said he is encouraged by a recent decision from Public Works that has seen a project started with the city's fire department that will allow fire safety inspectors to inspect 361 federal government buildings.

    "Finally we are getting to deal with this stuff," he said. "Now we are looking at putting together a co-ordinated standardized approach to all government buildings. That's significant. That's good for employee health and safety."

    Mr. Montone said he hopes the pilot project is expanded to allow Ottawa fire safety inspectors to inspect all of the 2,600 federal buildings in the city. The arrangement sees the federal government paying a fee to Ottawa fire safety inspectors for their work.

    He said infractions found in the 361 pilot project buildings run from fire doors being left open to construction clutter blocking escape routes.

    He said if the pilot project goes well, similar arrangements could be made with other fire departments across the country, since jurisdictional squabbles aren't limited to the Ottawa area.

    The city of Ottawa's fire service is responsible for fire safety inspections and education in more than 50,000 businesses and 440,000 homes across the city.

    The Ottawa Citizen 2005


    My question, do state and munipcial building codes in the U.S. also apply to any federal property that is within the municipality? Can city fire inspectors conduct fire inspections on in federal buildings that are located within their municipal boundaries? Do I make sense? I cannot believe that the guards left this women because there was no "fire plan."

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    My question, do state and munipcial building codes in the U.S. also apply to any federal property that is within the municipality? Can city fire inspectors conduct fire inspections on in federal buildings that are located within their municipal boundaries? Do I make sense? I cannot believe that the guards left this women because there was no "fire plan."

    Obviously it was not the guards job...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrIrons
    My question, do state and munipcial building codes in the U.S. also apply to any federal property that is within the municipality? Can city fire inspectors conduct fire inspections on in federal buildings that are located within their municipal boundaries? Do I make sense? I cannot believe that the guards left this women because there was no "fire plan."

    Obviously it was not the guards job...
    All I know is that we don't do BI at federal buildings (Post offices and such). Since the Feds oversee States who oversee Counties,Cities and towns...and not the otherway around it is just the same here.

    It is similar to all third party goverment entities like the TVA, Port Authority of NY/NY etc. This is why the World Trade Center among other things wasn't originally built with fire sprinklers. It wasn't until a 3rd Alarm fire in 1975(this wasn't the first serious fire in the WTC) which occured in the North Tower's 11th Floor. The fire,heat & smoke damage spread from the 9th through the 19th floors.

    It is also the reason we carry NPT and NST fittings in our standpipe bags as these buildings aren't required to have FDNY threads.

    FTM-PTB

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    Thanks for the insight Fred. When you read an article like the one above, it dos make you wonder who is responsible for enforcing building and life safety fire codes in federal buildings in this country. The fact that they are the federal government should not exempt them from public safety.

    cheffie

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    Federal buildings are exempt from the codes.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
    Federal buildings are exempt from the codes.

    That does not make any sense at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by superchef
    That does not make any sense at all.
    And when did anything the Feds do make sense?

    For example...

    When we have a fire alarm activation at the post office... the dispactchers at the Public Safety Dispatch Center have to notify the postmaster and await his arrival for him to allow us entry into the building. They Postal Service wil not allow a Knox Box keysafe, so we have to wait. We couldn't force entry for a fire rapidly even if we wanted to.. the windows are made of Lexan.

    If there is any type of incident that damages the mail, the postal inspectors must be notifed
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo
    And when did anything the Feds do make sense?

    Maybe the Monday Holiday Bill that moved days like President's Day to a Monday so they could have three day weekends.

    Good thing the federal government takes fire prevention so seriously.

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