The death of an Enderby firefighter in the line of duty in December 2011 has officially been classified as accidental.
In a four-page report, coroner Margaret Janzen said the death of Daniel Joseph Botkin, 25, was caused by blunt force trauma to the head and chest.
Janzen said Botkin died instantly after being struck by a metal door, the result of an explosion of a shipping container during a fire which broke out in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2011 at a log home construction site on the outskirts of Enderby.
Enderby Fire Department responded to the call shortly before 4 a.m. and discovered a modular trailer on the southside of the facility engulfed in flames, and that the roof of the main building had also caught fire.
An eight-foot-by-40-foot shipping container was located on the southeast side of the main building, containing chainsaws and a pressure washer. There was no fuel stored in the container but there was a one-litre container of methyl hydrate and “whatever gas might be in the chainsaw tanks.”
Crews battled the fire for an hour when an order was given by the deputy fire chief to “change from initial attack protocol to a mop-up procedure,” and firefighters backed away from the fully engulfed structure.
Just after 5 a.m., Botkin and another firefighter were moving from the south side of the structure with a water hose when the shipping container exploded, causing the doors to be dislodged and sent through the air.
One of the doors struck Botkin. The other firefighter suffered minor injuries.
“The explosion was felt to have occurred when the fuel from the chainsaws and the methyl hydrate detonated,” wrote Janzen.
Interviews with witnesses showed that the firefighters “did not appreciate the danger that the shipping container posed.”
Botkin had been a firefighter since 2005. All of the firefighters at the scene, including Botkin, wrote Janzen, had completed the requisite training. But prior to this incident, firefighter training did not include any training targeted at shipping containers.
As a result of the incident, the Office of the Fire Commissioner published a safety advisory bulletin addressing fire personnel safety when working near shipping containers where flammable liquids or explosives are stored.
WorkSafe B.C. also published a hazard alert. Both documents were distributed to all B.C. fire departments.
The Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. recommended changes to the national building code to recognize shipping containers as buildings or structures when not used for their original purposes.
and changes to the national fire code to recognize the dangers of small quantities of dangerous goods in shipping containers.