Inspector Says Lakeland Lacked Fire Safety PlanFire inspection reports for the Lakeland Mill were reviewed at an inquest Monday.
A current captain with Prince George Fire Rescue testified regarding a series of inspections at the Lakeland Mill before the April 2012 explosion. Fire Prevention Officer Captain Steve Feeney told the inquest Lakeland was typically inspected on a yearly basis.
During an inspection in 2008, fire officials recognized a need for a mill fire safety plan. Feeney alleged there was no plan in place at the mill during an inspection two years later. He says there was still no plan in inspections that followed.
Other reported issues included emergency exit lighting not being illuminated and an evacuation plan not being posted.
Jurors viewed a US Chemical Safety Board video, which listed wood products as a potential source of combustible dust explosions.
Feeney says he inspected dust because of its fire risk. When asked if the captain knew dust was an explosion hazard in 2010, Feeney told inquest counsel “no.”
Counsel asked him when he learned of the explosion risk, Feeney replied “after Babine,” referencing the Burns Lake mill explosion in January, 2012.
In April that year, 43 year old Allan Little and 46 year old Glenn Roche died as a result of the Lakeland explosion.
During a re-inspection at Lakeland a month before its explosion, Feeney said “the dust had been cleaned up. There was very little dust in the mill.”
The fire department doesn’t have the authority to shut down a workplace. Enforcement is carried out by the Office of the Fire Commissioner and Work Safe BC. The only penalty the fire department can
deal is a $150 fine to re-inspect a previous re-inspection.