The timing of the fire in Quebec, has made it even more devastating, as much of the building has frozen over making it nearly impossible to find the missing people. The fact that it was in a retirement community and people have limited mobility, also makes it devastating. A fire during the winter is a nightmare for any firefighter. Washburn fire chief Troy Heald says the time of year is a huge factor for firefighting.
” This time of year being in the middle of winter, the cold temperatures complicate things because it’s cold for firefighters to do the work, the equipment just doesn’t function as well. Things freeze up we’re dealing with water,”says Heald.
Heald says other difficulties arise when trying to shelter the elderly. They may need certain medical attention or may have limited mobility. Also with it being wintertime, they need to find shelter rather quickly. Over the summer, a fire started by a lighting strike occurred at Washburn Estates, a retirement community. The housing manager J.R Belanger says he has changed some things since the fire.
“We have implemented an additional fire safety pamphlet of information at lease signing, that further more in depth explains procedures, policies of what to do in case of a fire.”
Belanger says there are some other things done to keep the tenants safe.
“We do physical inspections of the apartments on a regular basis. We change out the batteries in all the tenants smoke detectors on a regular basis. We do a physical walk through of each apartment, to make sure there’s no safety violations,” says Belanger.
Belanger says he cannot imagine and doesn’t even want to imagine a fire of that size like in Quebec.
“We were very lucky because of the time of year, obviously a fire in the winter time is going to be ten times as worse. To deal with that in that magnitude would be unbelievable.”
Fire Chief Heald says it is very important to make sure all safety measures are in place and that everyone knows where the meeting place is.