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Calls for changes to West Kelowna bylaw to prevent repeat of 2011 Enderby tragedy

The revisions seek to protect the lives of firefighters and residents
West Kelowna Fire Rescue. (Black Press file photo)

An emotional story told to West Kelowna council emphasized the need for bylaw changes to help protect firefighters and residents in the community.

One of the changes relates to the storage of flammable or hazardous materials inside shipping containers.

At its May 23 regular meeting, Fire Chief Jason Brolund told council about a 2011 lumber mill fire in Enderby where a small amount of fuel, in such a container near the blaze, heated up to the point where it exploded, blew the doors off, and killed firefighter Capt. Daniel Botkin.

“I was at Capt. Botkin’s funeral in 2011 and since then the fire service has done a lot of work around figuring out what happened and how to prevent it from happening again,” said Brolund.

READ MORE: Candles burn in memory of fallen Enderby firefighter

Brolund added that prevention includes not allowing the storage of flammable or combustible liquids, or any fuel-fired equipment inside a shipping container, without a simple modification.

“That is cutting a vent at the bottom and placing a vent at the top. What this ask in the bylaw does, is require that to happen.”

Brolund said the storage of compressed gases, such as propane, in a container should not be allowed at any time.

Other changes include requiring a lock box to securely store keys for apartment buildings so that the fire department has immediate access in the event of an emergency.

As well, the bylaw requires electronic copies of pre-incident plans, provided by the owners of commercial, industrial and multi-family buildings that show the location of gas shut-off valves, apartment suites, elevators and stairwells.

“Always happy to support anything that makes the firefighters’ job easier and safer, as well as protects residents that live in and near these buildings,” said Coun. Jason Friesen.

Brolund added the changes are likely the first of several over the next few years as the community continues to grow and the make-up of buildings changes.

Council gave the first three readings to the fire rescue establishment and operations amendment bylaw.

READ MORE: West Kelowna council encouraged by regional transportation plan


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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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