Hamlet to answer safety concerns
Fire marshall reveals safety violations at community arena

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

RANKIN INLET (Apr 08/98) - The assistant fire marshall for the Keewatin is stressing the importance of fire safety in public buildings following an inspection at the Rankin Inlet arena that revealed several safety concerns.

Tim Hinds said there were several "life safety" issues, including fire exits not shovelled and a lack of fire extinguishers, that needed to be dealt with immediately during the last weekend in February.

"It was during Kivalliq Cup and a curling bonspiel was on at the same time, so every facility was being used and occupancy was enormous," he said.

Hinds said there was a shortage of fire extinguishers and the existing ones weren't operational.

"Looks like no maintenance had been done," he said. "Some had been discharged and put back. They have to be maintained or when you need them, they won't be there. When they're out in the open, you get kids playing with them."

Since Hinds found the safety violations, the hamlet has made sure the exits are shovelled and the fire extinguishers have been replaced with ones that work.

I got a really good response from the hamlet after I called them," he said. "They reacted well and quickly."

But the issues identified by the assistant fire marshall are only part of a larger problem the hamlet is currently trying to find the capital to correct.

"This is an interim measure for life safety," he added. "We don't want anyone in there and can't get out."

Rick Denison, hamlet recreation co-ordinator, said that the immediate problems with the exits and the fire extinguishers have been addressed, but indicated that other renovations to the arena are still under review.

"We're currently negotiating with MACA (the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs)," he said. "The project has been deferred from year to year because the capital dollars were not made available for the project."

The improvements, which include a new sprinkler system and other renovations, went out to tender and came back at $617,000, way over the $439,000 the project was expected to cost.

"We're going to have to re-tender and talk with consultants," he said.

But Hinds said that the safety at community buildings is an important issue that can't be ignored.

"Realistically, if the life safety isn't up on the buildings, they shouldn't be open ... and that's the last thing we want to do," he said.

Denison hopes the improvements will be made this summer.

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