The City of Winnipeg is taking steps to prevent another explosion like the one that rocked St. Boniface in 2012.
The fire at Speedway International at the St. Boniface Industrial park sent fireballs into in the sky and caused the evacuation of several blocks. Speedway manufactured and stored biodiesel.
A report presented to the protection and community services committee on Monday recommends the city hire a new fire prevention officer and adopt a more rigid inspection schedule at hazardous materials sites.
It suggests the following schedule:
- High hazard (F1) occupancies get annual inspections.
- Medium hazard (F2) occupancies get inspections every three years.
- Low hazard (F3) occupancies get inspections every five years.
Currently, hazardous occupancy sites not required to be inspected under the Office of the Fire Commissioner's mandated inspection schedule, are inspected through a complaint process or if fire crews observe potential issues during response to a property.
A property owner may also request an inspection based on their own concerns.
Janet Bier, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service's director of fire prevention, says business owners will be given several months' notice prior to an inspection, but the fire department will also act on tips from the public.
"Often we'll receive complaints from employees in these types of businesses if they feel that their safety is, you know, jeopardized by something going on in these buildings," Bier told CBC News on Monday.
In October 2012, the massive explosion at Speedway International, located in the city's St.Boniface area, sent a fireball high into the sky.
- Stop work notice in place at Speedway International
- Winnipeg fuel plant concerns remain, 1 year after fire
- Winnipeg fuel plant fire causes $15M damage
The blaze caused $15 million damage and once it had been extinguished, the site of the plant looked as if a bomb had exploded. The intense heat had melted much of the structure.
Even though Speedway stored fuel, it had no permits and had not been inspected.
Another recommendation in Monday's report calls for an inspection fee of $150 per hour for high-hazard sites.
It also recommends the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the city’s planning, property and development department better collaborate to identify hazardous sites using occupancy permits.
There are approximately 300 locations across Winnipeg that the fire service knows contain flammable or explosive material.
City council must yet consider and vote on the report and its recommendations.
The cause of the Speedway fire was found to be accidental.
The company faces numerous charges under City of Winnipeg bylaws related to the storage of flammable liquids and building occupancy infractions.
A provincial report on what happened in the Speedway fire is still being written.