Alberta Fire Code violation fines upheld against downtown building owner
Alberta’s Court of Queen’s Bench upheld a ruling finding Calgary property owners and managers of failing to immediately notify the Fire Department of a diesel spill on the 34th floor of their downtown office building in June 2011.
On October 23, 2014, a Court decision upheld a previous December 2013 ruling which found 1023808 Alberta Ltd., Brookfield Properties Management Corporation and Brookfield Properties Ltd, the owner, manager and operators of Fifth Avenue Place (420 – 2nd Street S.W.), guilty of one count of failing to immediately notify the Calgary Fire Department of a diesel spill that took place on June 21, 2011. The decision also upholds $30,000 in fines, which were laid against the companies.
“The Alberta Fire Code states that failing to notify the Fire Department (911) immediately when there is a flammable or combustible liquid spill, is a serious offence,” said Ed Kujat, fire marshal, Calgary Fire Department. ”Owners and contractors are responsible to know the Alberta Fire Code and to follow it at all times.”
After the initial ruling, the companies filed an appeal in January 2014. In dismissing the appeal, Justice M. David Gates found the trial judge was correct in determining the companies failed to immediately notify the Calgary Fire Department of a spill in excess of 50 litres, as required under the Alberta Fire Code (2006).
A spill of approximately 300 litres of diesel occurred on the roof of the 34th floor during the installation of a new generator and diesel storage tank. It took more than two hours after the spill was discovered for emergency responders to be notified. Upon arrival, Calgary firefighters activated the fire alarm and initiated an immediate evacuation of the building.
Under the Alberta Fire Code, property or building owners are responsible for the safety systems in their buildings. They are responsible for ensuring their employees or contractors adhere to the requirements of the Alberta Fire Code during times of construction or renovation, and that all building safety systems are working.
The ruling reinforces that Alberta building owners and their employees or contractors are required to call 911 in the case of a significant fuel spill.
The maximum fines at the time of this case were limited to $15,000 per offence. Fines for violations of the Alberta Fire Code have gone up significantly for offences after December 2012 – from a maximum penalty of $15,000 per offence, now up to a maximum of $100,000 per offence.
Property or building owners have a responsibility to understand the importance of the Alberta Fire Code and to ensure it is adhered to at all times.
The Calgary Fire Department enforces the Alberta Fire Code to ensure Calgary is a safe place to live. The Calgary Fire Department’s mission is to serve the community though excellence in fire prevention, education, protection and safety.