Lantzville buildings fail fire inspections

NANAIMO – The District of Lantzville released inspection reports done since 2013.

Lantzville’s elementary school, municipal office and even its churches failed to meet fire code inspections, according to recently-released reports.

The first inspection reports done by the Lantzville fire department and released in a Freedom of Information request, highlight risks found in the community’s public buildings, from emergency lights that don’t work, to the lack of smoke alarms, exit signs and fire safety plans.

In an earlier interview Lantzville Fire Chief Tom Whipps said he wasn’t finding any violations he didn’t expect, with businesses left unchecked for the last decade.

While the District of Lantzville has been required by the B.C. Fire Services Act to inspect public buildings since 2003, it only started to look at potential fire risks last year.

According to Whipps, the volunteer fire department didn’t have the time nor the people trained to do the job. It wasn’t until a 2013 fire underwriters’ survey showed the need for department to have fire pre-plans, a result of inspections, that the municipality started to invest resources in the hunt for fire code violations.

Inspection reports submitted between last year and February show violations discovered at the district office, which required wires to be sealed and boxes to be removed from against the water and baseboard heaters and near the electrical panel. Woodgrove Christian Community Church, which leases a district building, had seating that doesn’t conform to code, fire separation issues and the need for emergency exit signs, while Sow’s Ear Medical Clinic was found without exit signs, working emergency lights and extinguishers with service tags. Slegg Lumber had a range of issues from blocked aisles to an obstructed hydrant connection.

The local school also didn’t pass inspection with a short-list of violations like rooms without emergency escape plans, voids in fire resistant walls and a functioning cook top without an extinguisher. School principal Patrick Young said the issues have been addressed, though prior to the report he hadn’t been aware there was an inspection process. The school has a safety committee that checks the building and the fire department does a casual walk-through during drills.

“We weren’t aware there was a formal process … but we always have [the fire department’s] presence here walking through so it’s almost like we were inspected,” Young said.

Slegg Lumber assistant manager Dyanne Costello said the list of code violations found at the store sounds worse than it is. Much of the issues would have been fixed already if inspections been done previously, she said, adding a lot of the issues have existed for more than a decade.

Those with infractions have up to two months to comply.