Written by The Canadian Press
May 25, 2017, Toronto - Risky ice rescue courses that send firefighters and firefighting students into treacherous, fast-moving currents should be put on hold until they can be performed safely, a coroner's inquest into the deaths of two Ontario men recommended Thursday.

Jurors looking into what led to the deaths of Gary Kendall, 51, and Adam Brunt, 30, in separate ice rescue training exercises said the province should convene an expert committee to determine whether such training can be carried out in swift water without endangering participants.

The committee should consider what equipment, techniques, locations and standards would be required to bring the risks down to an acceptable level, the jury suggested.

The jury's 15 recommendations, which are not legally binding, were issued after the inquest heard from multiple witnesses, including fire officials, over more than two weeks.

Brunt's father, Al Brunt, said the recommendations brought some hope that others would be better protected in the future. But he said the real relief will come when the government adopts the jury's suggested policies.

"The people that are opting to get into first responders as a career deserve to be protected, deserve safety ... Just to take a training course they shouldn't have to put their life on the line and that's hopefully what these policies, once enacted, will protect going forward,'' he said outside the inquest.

"The closure aspect will come in time," he added.

The lawyer representing Kendall's family said they were pleased to see issues that had haunted them for years finally get attention.

"One of the questions that came up time and time again during this inquest is whether it's possible to do this training safely at all, and everyone who testified only gave anecdotal evidence,'' Alex Van Kralingen said after the hearing.

Now, he said, experts will make that call.

"The only sad thing for me is that we did not have this coroner's inquest after the 2010 death of Gary Kendall,'' he added.

"The family, as you know, asked for an inquest at the time because they felt that there were systemic issues surrounding this sort of training, which were not being properly managed. No one listened to them and Adam died in 2015.''

Kendall, a veteran volunteer firefighter, and Adam Brunt, a firefighting student, died five years apart during ice rescue courses involving the same training company.

Kendall died in January 2010 after getting trapped under a fast-moving ice floe in waters near Sarnia, Ont. Brunt drowned in February 2015 while trying to float through a narrow gap in the ice on the Saugeen River near Hanover, Ont.

Their deaths, which the inquest jury deemed accidents, brought scrutiny to the industry surrounding private training courses for firefighters, which is currently unregulated.

The inquest jury zeroed in on that industry, urging the province to create a certification system for all firefighter safety


The province should also build and maintain a database of firefighter training courses that includes safety records and any complaints made against the providers, the jury recommended. That database should be given to all Ontario municipalities to ensure they retain certified instructors.

Brunt's mother, Christy Brunt, said that information could have saved her son's life.

"He looked online to see what courses were the best out there and this one was one of the ones, all the kids were taking it, so he took this one, he thought it would be the best one,'' she said. "So if the accident was on there already, if Gary's death was on there, then maybe he wouldn't have taken the course.''

The inquest heard that firefighters looking to learn about ice rescue practices may have no other choice than to turn to private instruction, since the Ontario Fire College suspended its own program three years ago.

Jurors heard the college, a provincial body that offers training to members of municipal fire departments, has yet to replace the program with an updated version.

The jury said the province should give regular reports on its response to the inquest's recommendations over the next three years.
Written by The Guardian
May 25, 2017, Prince County, P.E.I. -The P.E.I. Fire Marhal’s Office has ruled two Prince County fires that occurred on the same day last week as accidental.

On the morning of Wednesday, May 17, the Wellington Fire Department responded to a fire at a 1.5- storey dwelling in the western P.E.I. community of Egmont Bay. The Fire Marshal's Office ruled this fire as accidental in nature, which was sparked by an electrical malfunction in an upstairs bedroom. 

On the afternoon of the same day, the Alberton Fire Department was called to a structure fire at a two-storey home in Kildare, in the northwestern part of the island. The Fire Marshal's Office ruled this fire as accidental, with the origin in the recreation room on the lower level. The cause attributed to a malfunction in a piece of electronic equipment. The Guardian reports. | READ MORE 
Written by The Vancouver Sun
May 25, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. -The fire season in B.C. is off to a slow start thanks to wet spring weather that didn’t ease up until last week.

There are 15 forest fires currently burning in the province, but only two of those have been upgraded to wildfires of note status, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.

“On this date a year ago, we had 303 fires to date, which had burned over 90,000 hectares,” said spokeswoman Claire Allen.

High winds have made life difficult for 26 firefighters battling a 200-hectare fire near Mount Robson, east of Tete Jaune Cache, B.C. The fire has not been contained, but crews are focused on just two active spot fires.

A smouldering ground fire at Cooper Creek about two kilometres northwest of Lumby, B.C., has been contained at four hectares. Helicopters and airtankers doused the fire with retardant on Tuesday.

The relatively low fire count is a stark contrast to last season, when dry, hot conditions led to several large fires in the Peace region. The Vancouver Sun reports. | READ MORE 
Written by The Canadian Press
May 25, 2017, Vernon, B.C. - Cool, wet weather is helping crews who are fighting a pair of wildfires in British Columbia.
Written by CTV News
May 25, 2017, Huntsville, Ont. - The owner of the Super 8 Hotel in Huntsville and the company's director pleaded guilty to seven counts each of fire code violations under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act on May 16. CTV News reports. | READ MORE
Written by The Canadian Press
May 25, 2017, Laval, Que. - A used auto parts store in Laval caught fire early Thursday.
Written by CBC News
May 25, 2017, Daysland, Alta. - A 55-year-old woman and a dog were found dead in a home after a fire last week in the central Alberta town of Daysland, RCMP said Wednesday. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
Written by CBC News
May 25, 2017, Ottawa - An Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada audit has found that 53 First Nations reserves lack adequate resources to fight fires.

The internal audit identified 14 "underserviced" sites (13 in Saskatchewan, one in Manitoba) and 39 "limited service sites" (17 in Ontario, 22 in British Columbia) in a briefing note prepared for Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and obtained by CBC News through an Access to Information request.

Although the July 15, 2016, briefing note stresses the numbers could change, the department says the figures are the latest "snapshot" of the state of firefighting resources in communities on the department's watch list.

The department defines "underserviced" and "limited service" sites as those that have limited access to fire trucks and lack knowledge about safety measures such as "installing fire extinguishers, installing smoke alarms and conducting fire drills."

As far as the executive director of the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC) is concerned, the number of communities in need of greater fire protection is actually much higher than the 53 identified in the briefing note. CBC News reports. | READ MORE 
Written by The Canadian Press
May 25, 2017, Toronto - Toronto firefighters have spent the night battling a large and stubborn six-alarm blaze at a recycling facility near the city's waterfront.

Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said the blaze began just before 1 a.m. on Cherry St. and ''escalated through the alarm levels very quickly.''

There were no reported injuries among workers who were in the facility owned by GFL Environmental Inc.

''There were staff on scene (and) shortly after our arrival, our crews were able to confirm that everyone was out of the building,'' said Pegg.

He also said firefighters had not yet entered the building because of risk of collapse.

''It would be hazardous for us to do that. They're outside the collapse zone working on defence and control.''

Pegg said the fire was challenging because it is in a mixed waste facility that handles non-residential commercial waste and until firefighters get enter the structure, it's impossible to know exactly what's inside.

''Because we can't positively identify what's in there, we're taking all the precautions necessary and making sure our crews are protected.''

A steady rain fell through the night and Pegg said that helped prevent any embers from flying around.

Pegg said he has heard from residents as far away as the northwest suburb of Etobicoke who reported smelling smoke from the fire but didn't believe the smoke plume posed any hazards.

The fire chief also said it was too early to speculate on what may have caused the fire, adding that a hazardous materials team had been called in to monitor runoff from the fire.

Pegg said much of the water being used to battle the blaze was being supplied by a fireboat just offshore in Lake Ontario.

GFL Environmental describes the facility on its website as a solid waste transfer station, hauling yard and solid waste material recycling site.
Written by The Canadian Press
May 24, 2017, Vernon, B.C. - The BC Wildfire Service is responding to two separate blazes that broke out on Tuesday, including one that has prompted an evacuation alert.

A fire in the north Okanagan, northwest of Lumby, was fanned by high winds and officials say it has now charred as much as eight hectares of trees and bush in the Cooper's Mountain area.

An evacuation alert issued late Tuesday night by the Regional District of North Okanagan covers homes within two kilometres of the flames.

The wildfire service says an air tanker and helicopter dropped water and retardant and more crews could be added as required.

The fire's cause is under investigation, while a separate blaze in the Prince George fire centre, five kilometres east of Tete Jaune Cache, was sparked by humans and has scorched about 15 hectares of bush.

No homes are threatened, but 26 firefighters and two officers are working to contain the flames at the base of a steep slope.
Written by CBC News
May 24, 2017, Tete Jaune Cache, B.C. - An out-of-control wildfire is burning close to a small community near the B.C.-Alberta border but is not considered to be threatening any people or structures. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
Written by The Montreal Gazette
May 24, 2017, St-Lazare, Que. - A new bariatric medical evacuation team made up of St-Lazare firefighters is now standing by to support paramedics and other first responders in 54 communities in western Montérégie to safely lift and transport injured people weighing over 350 pounds. The Montreal Gazette reports. | READ MORE
Written by CBC News
May 24, 2017, Ottawa - A fire that gutted four businesses on Manotick Main Street Sunday started as an electrical fire in the building's roof, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal confirmed Monday. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
Written by Global News
May 24, 2017, Calgary - Calgary firefighters were able to quickly extinguish a fire that sparked in the community of Saddle Ridge on Tuesday morning. Global News reports. | READ MORE
Written by CBC News
May 24, 2017, Toronto - A man in his 20s was taken to hospital in serious condition with smoke inhalation after a fire on the eighth floor of downtown apartment building in Toronto on Tuesday night, paramedics say. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
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