Fire victims, neighbours accuse Quebec City firefighters of 'incompetence'

The man, woman and 10-year-old boy who jumped four storeys to escape their burning apartment building are considering taking legal action against the Quebec City fire department.

Family that jumped from 4th-floor apartment to escape fire considers legal action against fire department

RAW: Man helps boy escape burning apartment

8 years ago
Duration 0:42
A 10-year-old boy is dropped four floors to safety by his mother's partner as flames consume their apartment in Quebec City. Video by Richard Busque.

The man, woman and 10-year-old boy, who jumped four storeys to escape their burning apartment, are considering taking legal action against the Quebec City fire department.

The firefighters did a very bad job. Utterly incompetent.- Jeremy Hamel Vigneault, neighbour

The family, along with neighbours who watched them jump from the building, accuse firefighters of not doing enough to save their lives.

"The firefighters did a very bad job. Utterly incompetent. Seriously, I'm afraid to say it, but completely and utterly incompetent," said neighbour Jeremy Hamel Vigneault.

Hamel Vigneault, along with two police officers, caught 10-year-old Jason Chicoine in his arms when his parents dropped him from the window of the fourth-storey unit, breaking his fall.

Ladder malfunction, alleged slow response time

Hamel Vigneault said the family had to jump to escape the flames because the fire truck's ladder malfunctioned.

"They were trying to open the ladder. [The firefighter's] ladder wasn't working, but the guy just stayed there and did nothing. He didn't communicate with the other firefighters that it wasn't working," Hamel Vigneault said.

Another neighbour, Alexandre Tellier said his father called 911 six times.

Tellier said it took about 15 to 20 minutes for help to arrive, even though the closest fire hall is located about a block away from the apartment.

However, a fire department spokesman told CBC News that firefighters arrived rapidly on the scene as soon as they received the call.

A timeline provided by the fire department shows that the first 911 call was received at 4:55 a.m. and fire trucks were on the scene two minutes later.

Radio-Canada said police arrived at 4:59 a.m. and the fire department was already there.

Video of the family's escape that was shot by neighbour Richard Busque starts at 5:07 a.m. and the boy is shown being dropped from the burning apartment 30 seconds later.

The fire department spokesman has admitted that the mechanical failure of the fire truck ladder is worrisome. 

An investigation into the rescue operation is underway.

RAW: Jason Chicoine, 10, recounts harrowing fire escape

8 years ago
Duration 1:09
Jason Chicoine, 10, describes what happened when he, his mom and stepdad jumped from their 4th storey burning apartment.