In Grand Forks and Winnipeg hotel fires aftermath, training sessions planned

After a Grand Forks RCMP and Fire Rescue debrief on Grand Forks and Winnipeg Hotel fires, emergency practice exercises are being planned.

An early-morning fire on March 7 destroyed the Grand Forks Hotel in Grand Forks.

An early-morning fire on March 7 destroyed the Grand Forks Hotel in Grand Forks.

Nearly a month after the Grand Forks Hotel and Winnipeg Hotel fires Grand Forks RCMP and Fire Rescue had a debriefing about the incident.

Grand Forks RCMP’s Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison met recently with Fire Rescue Chief Dale Heriot and were happy with their response time and how they tackled the fire.

“We both came to the conclusion that everything went very smoothly,” stated Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison.

“I was extremely impressed by our fire department, given the intensity of the blaze at the Grand Forks Hotel and the fact that they were able to protect the adjoining structures from exposure to the fire. Our fire department is something to be proud of. Our guys are good.”

“There were no big hiccups throughout either of the fires that we had going on and communication was quite good,” stated Heriot, “We had the highway shut down and the utilities did the necessary cuts.”

The Grand Forks Fire Rescue was also assisted by the Christina Lake Fire Department.

However, Harrison noted that under the Provincial Emergency Program, the community hasn’t had an emergency practice exercise since Harrison arrived four years ago.

“I have been in touch with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s emergency co-ordinator and we are talking about putting together a table-top exercise with all the agencies that we would be calling upon in a community emergency,” he explained. “It should be done on an annual basis.”

The city emergency plan and building contracts would need to be updated, along with renewing the contact lists.

The emergency practice exercise, involving various agencies including city works and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (who would redirect traffic) could also be involved in a practice exercise.

“If we were going to do an exercise, it would be realistic and do an assessment of what the major hazards would be in the community,” Harrison explained.

“We would design a scenario and get all the agencies that would be involved if there were a disaster. It’s a case of emergency preparedness and how we activate all the agencies to get involved to work together and keep our community safe.”

The scenario could be a flooding, a fire, an exposure, or a transportation disaster.

Heriot concluded, “We get events like this and it identifies the need to have constant communication and do some of these exercises in the event that we do get a bigger emergency than we expected to see.”

Grand Forks Gazette