Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Firefighters School fined in death of Skyler Blackie

The Nova Scotia Firefighters School will pay $102,000 in fines and bursaries after pleading guilty in the death of Truro firefighter Skyler Blackie.

School admits it failed to perform routine inspections, will pay more than $100K in fines, bursaries

Skyler Blackie died 11 days after he was critically injured in a training incident at a firefighting school in Waverley, N.S., in 2019. (Town of Truro)

The Nova Scotia Firefighters School has been sentenced to pay $102,000 in fines and bursaries after pleading guilty in the death of Truro firefighter Skyler Blackie.

Blackie died in hospital after a fire extinguisher he was using exploded during a training exercise at the school in Waverley in March 2019.

The school admitted it failed to perform routine inspections on its fire extinguishers as required by law and did not keep adequate records.

Investigators found the faulty extinguisher, which was donated to the school by the defunct Imperial Oil refinery in Dartmouth, was visibly corroded and would have been discarded if annual inspections had taken place. 

The school failed to perform both annual visual inspections and pressure tests that were supposed to happen every 12 years. 

Both types of inspections were years overdue on the extinguisher that exploded in Blackie's hands as he prepared to put out a propane fire during a skills test. 

The top of the extinguisher broke away and struck him in the face. He died after 11 days in hospital. 

Family devastation

The court heard anguished victim impact statements from Blackie's mother, father, widow, brother and sister. 

They described their daily struggle to endure with the loss of a loved one who they say was supremely dedicated to his profession. 

Skyler's brother, Errison Blackie, is also a firefighter with the Truro Fire Service. Dressed in his uniform, he described the guilt he feels to be living his brother's dream of a firefighting career. 

His father, Blaine Blackie, says he can't forgive the school, an institution dedicated to protecting firefighters, for ignoring safety rules that led to his son's death. 

Order to educate

The school will have to give three recorded presentations to firefighting organizations about the accident and how it could have been prevented. 

It will pay a $20,000 fine, a $3,000 victim surcharge and $80,000 in bursaries for volunteer firefighters in Nova Scotia to receive training at the school. 

The judge in the case said the total doesn't represent the value of Blackie's life, but is a figure that will catch the attention of the public and emphasize the importance of respecting safety legislation. 

CBC News has contacted the Nova Scotia Firefighter School for comment, but has not received a response.