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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 4, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 34 1ETHBRIDGE HERALD July 4, 1973 Smoke inhalation greatest danger to apartment life By CHRISTOPHER CARROLL of The Canadian Press The rising number of apart- ment dwellers, particularly those in tall buildings, in ada's major urban centres has provoked increasing con- cern about the hazards high-rise living in the event of a disaster such as a fire. In a Cross-Canada Survey by The Canadian Press fire authorities indicate different opinions on the safety of high- rise buildings in the event of a fire. However, they all agree that the danger of smoka inhalation in a high- rise fire is the greatest threat to tenants. Peter Gathercole, an On- tario Fire Marshal's Office engineer, who has studied high-rise fires for more than a year, thinks Toronto's apartment towsrs are "pretty darn safe." He said, in Toronto, where about 1.2 million people- about half the population- live in apartments, there is little threat, if any, of mul- tiple deaths in high-rise fires. Montreal Chief Inspector Maurice Lessard has a differ- ent opinion. He said no high- rise that he had been in had what he considered "ade- quate" measures to fight emergencies. CODE NOT OBLIGATORY Most fire department offi- cials in Canada agree with the Regina deputy chief, Gerald Dixon, who said: "You can build high-rises as safe as you want ttem, but the cost is prohibitive. With the best available equipment, high-rises can be 90-per-cent safe. However, you always have to take into considera- tion a freak accident. We fight them as they come." The conflicting views arise, in part, from tha National Building Code's fire regu- lations, which muaicipalites can incorporate at their dis- cretion. Most cities adhere to the code. But many of the smaller cities have not adopted those standards con- cerning high-rise buildings be- cause of the limited number of high-rise apartments. Char- lottatown, which has no ings more than six storeys, and Saint John, N.B., are two such cities. Percy Clark, Saint John as- sociate fire chief, who hopes the city will adopt the na- tional standards soon, said: "Adopting the national fire code would give our fire de- partment the teeth to enforce the necessary regulations in regard to construction of high-rise buildings in the fu- ture." White Newfoundland Fire Commissioner Frank Ryan concurs with Mr. Clark, Ed- mcnton Fire Chief Louis Day does not. Mr. Day said his complaint is with the fire code. "The code is designed as a Tnmfofriini requirement code but is used as a maximum he said. He blames the people in the fire service, not the developers, for not being vocal enough. "We're sitting on our butts, not pounding the table hard enough." The main area of.concern for all fire department spokesmen in Canada is the danger of smoke inhalation. Alderman Ron Hayter of the Edmonton city council said: "While the building structure is of non-com- bustible construction, being protected steel or concrete, the contents are certainly combustible and create enough heat and smoke dur- ing a fire to damage the structure and asphyxiate the occupants." The National Research Council, which is conducting experiments in Ottawa on smoke migration and air leak- age in walls and interior sep- arations, confirms Mr. Hay- ter's opinion. The council says that smoke in buildings, espe- cially stairwells, is respon- sible for 85 per cent of fire deaths. In the view of most fire de- partment officials, evacuation is next to impossible in high- rise buildngs. Fire Chief Armand Konig of Victoria said, since the move- ment of smoke is the biggest problem, and since total evac- uation is extremely difficult, the best solution is a matter of finding a safe place to put people to get them away from the smoke. He the balcony if you are not on the fire floor, or two floors above the fire. "We evacuats those people near the fire, but anywhere else people are relatively safe if they keep the door to their suite closed and go onto the balcony where there is fresh sir." Fire Chief Cam Shewan of Winnipeg suggests that "one of the best plans for occupant safety is to develop com- partmentation of floor areas where endangered persons can go to an area of refuge." He also proposed more ade- quate fire alarm systems and fire-proof stairwells, while Manitoba Fire Commissioner Gus Thornbert adds high-rise buildings "need either smoke control or both." Fire Chief Day of Edmon- ton said high-rise buildings should have smoke detectors in every apartment and a public address system wTiich can be used to direct resi- dents in case of fire. In Montreal, where tTiere were threa major higti-rise fires last year, fire officials have had to modify fire regu- lations to meet with an in- creasingly comptex situation. Although the installation of a fire alarm system has been, mandatory for years in Mon- treal, regulations now include the installation of smoke de- tectors that automatically stop the building's ven- ventilation system in order to halt the spread of fumes. SUGGEST FIRE DRILLS For buildings more than seven floors high, rsgulations require the pressurization of each floor to stop the spread of flames from one floor to another. Regularly enforced fire drills for tenants have also been suggested. Fire Chief Charles Cham- bers of Toronto suggests that bylaws governing firewall construction and providing for water systems that give as much water pressure at the top of a high-rise as on the ground floor would help avert major disasters. R-sgina Fire Chief Harold THE MOUNTIES Written by members and ex-members themselves. Alcohol and alibis Every policeman and mag- istrate has to have a sense of humour. He also has to have considerable restraint when he listens to some of he stories his "customers" tell him. Nowhere do they hear so many improbably alibis as those that come up when they are dealing with infractions of liquor legislation. Consider these: Rounding a curve on a steep mountain road, a B.C. officer was startled to find the road completely blocked with a stalled car. He stopp- ed his patrol car just inches from the other vehicel. The door on the driver's side of the stranded car hung open and a body was lying on the road with the feet still tangled in the foot pedals of the car. ALIVE The officer discovered that the "body" was still alive but extremely drunk. He pulled him free and managed to push the vehicle over to the roadside where it did not pre- GASOLINE EVERYDAY LOW PRICE '.9 Regular I Gallon 1.9 Premhfm W fc Gallon 47 52 Use Your Simpsons-Sears Charas sent a traffic hazard. All efforts to revive the man failing, he loaded him in the police car, drove him into town and carried his jnan into a cell. Needless to say, his guest1 was in a very dishevelled condition. The following morning, the who had a number of previous convictions for drunkenness, was all bright eyed and cheerful, dressed up in a complete change of clothes his wife had brought to the police station. Up before the magistrate, the constable gave his evi- dence but on" that isolated mountain road, there bad been no witnesses. When the defendant was asked how he pled, he stat- ed firmly "not "Now. Alex." the magis-' trate said, "I know there were no witnesses but I have known both you and Constable Jones for a long time and I have never had reason to doubt him on any previous occasion. Are you sure you weren't drunk out there on the "I couldn't have been out there on the road. I was much too drunk to drive a On a sweltering summer evening a patrolling police of- ficer noticed a car a few feet off the highway on a side road with both trunk and hood open and two men peering in at the engine. He puUed in behind them to see if he could offer them any assistance only to discover that each man had an opened bottle of beer in his hand, two other botUes on the front seat and an open case in the trunk. Appearing in court a day or two later, the accuseds1 story was that car had stopped with an airlock and they were pouring the cold beer on the motor. Their story so tickled the magistrate's fancy that they got away with and costs apiece. Button adds that a sufficient number of stairways equipped with emergency lighting and tight-fitting doors, automatic elevator power cutoff and properly equipped fire hosa cabinets on each floor would make high-rise apartment towers safer. Former alderman George Bothwell of Regina suggested last year 'that city council stop granting building permits far buildings more than 100 feet high because aerial lad- ders could not reach beyond that height. This may be suitable for cities in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Nswfoundfand and Prince Edward Island where the number of high-rise buildings is, as yet, limited, fire department officials say. However, it does not apply to larger centres in Quebec, On- tario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia. This land i s your land Canadian Forces plane flies over the rough terrain of military aircraft, saying in effect, all land in sight belongs the North. 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