The N.W.T. Workers' Compensation Board has told the city of Yellowknife to have managers and supervisors in its fire department re-certified to meet national safety standards.

WCB: Review, Audit and Implement
Among the other orders the WCB gave the City of Yellowknife:

  • Create a full-time Safety Officer position in the Fire Department, trained to national standards.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive Fire Department health and safety program.
  • Conduct an external audit of Fire Department operational procedures and guidelines, to identify deficiencies and suggest corrective actions.
  • Evaluate current training practices for gaps that may be present.
  • Develop a procedure for all personnel responding to a call for firefighting duty.
  • Any emergency recall system to be implemented shall include some method of transmitting this information to the Fire Hall dispatch centre.
  • Review emergency scene management procedures and operating guidelines, and convey results to local law enforcement officials and other government departments.
  • The department must do regular site and building inspections to familiarize themselves wtith hazards they may encounter while performing their duties.
  • Conduct debriefs in a timely manner after an incident regarding deficiences and make note of corrective measures implemented.
  • That's just one of 12 orders the WCB has handed the city in the wake of its investigation into the deaths of two firefighters in Yellowknife.

    Kevin Olson and Cyril Fyfe died after the roof of a burning shed collapsed on top of them on March 17, 2005. Other firefighters were working on the roof when it gave way.

    The WCB has competed its investigation, but says its report is confidential and has refused to comment on its contents. It says the report is being reviewed by independent legal counsel for the purpose of possible prosecution under the N.W.T. Safety Act.

    "In fairness to any parties who may be affected, no further information is being released until the legal review is complete and a decision has been made."

    However, a Board news release says such a review is "routine".

    Even the City of Yellowknife, which employed the firefighters, has not been given the report.

    The order to re-certify its fire department managers was part of a separate inspection report of problems with fire safety programs and procedures. That report issued the orders to the city under territorial safety legislation.

    Acting city administrator Dave Devana say the city is willing to implement the orders, but without the full report, it won't know if the changes will satisfy the WCB.

    "It would be helpful to have that, so that we would know why we're getting each of the 12 orders," he says. "Many of them are to review our existing procedures, and so we are able to at least review it and determine what we should do next."

    The orders also call for independent reviews of several of the fire department's programs and practices, including management procedures at emergency scenes.

    The city has from two weeks to five months to comply, depending on the order. It has 30 days to launch an appeal.

    Devana says the city will be meeting with the firefighters' union in the coming weeks to decide how to implement the orders.