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Firefighters call for better safety

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Oshawa’s firefighter union has joined the city in calling for stricter regulations for wood-frame buildings.

This past June, city council resolved to ask the province to review its guidelines for fire safety during construction of five and six-storey wood buildings, and make such guidelines mandatory for all wood buildings with more than four storeys.

The move came after a large fire that erupted at an apartment building under construction on Bloor Street West near Park Road South.

Although there were no injuries, Oshawa Fire Services estimated the damage of the fire, and a smaller one nearby, at approximately $6 million.

The fire is suspected to be arson by the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, and Durham Regional Police continue to investigate.

Security camera footage of a suspect was recently released by police.

Peter Dyson, president of the Oshawa Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA) applauded the city’s resolution.

“As the June 9 fire on Bloor Street West showed, fires in wood-frame buildings, in particular those under construction, burn unexpectedly large and hot, and have the potential to be extremely dangerous to firefighters and to the public,” he says.

But Dyson believes the city needs to invest more into fire services, specifically providing more equipment and staff in the downtown.

Last fall, the OPFFA released a community risk assessment, written by the International Association of Fire Fighters, highlighting the need for “additional front-line resources” in order to meet response time and deployment standards as determined by the National Fire Protection Association.

Earlier this year, city council also supported plans for an updated city fire master plan, which will include a community risk assessment undertaken by Dillon Consultants.

The firefighters union has been identified as one of the key stakeholder groups for the consultant to speak with.

Dyson says the OPFFA is offering its input to the city in regards to discussions on provincial legislation.

“We agree with the city’s concerns about wood-frame construction, and once again, we offer our assistance and input to help the city work toward a fire department deployment model that provides the level of protection the citizens of Oshawa expect and deserve,” Dyson adds.