Iqaluit's fire chief says finding a way to put out the flames at the dump involves weighing the risks for firefighters.
Fire Chief Luc Grandmaison said now that the fire has been burning inside the garbage pile for five weeks, it is essentially a shell and two potential ways to end the fire would mean disturbing that pile.
"It will crumble down," he said. "This is like a building that's unstable."
Grandmaison presented two possible methods for putting out the fire to city council earlier this week: drilling a pipe into the dump pile to add air to make the fire burn more intensely, or scooping up the garbage and dunking it in water.
Grandmaison said they have to take any occupational health and safety hazards into consideration.
One danger, he said, is that ashes could crumble and fall on employees. Another is the smoke.
"We have to protect their lungs from any type of toxin," he said. "These employees, once we start a process, will be exposed to smoke and there is toxin in the smoke, there's no doubt about that."
Grandmaison said workers would have to wear gear to protect their lungs and possibly firefighter jackets.
The city has yet to choose a method but things could be a little clearer next week after its consultation with a landfill fire expert.