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December 18, 2013

Calgary companies face fines for botched highrise generator installation

A provincial court judge has slapped a total of $30,000 in fines on the owner, manager and operator of an office building in Calgary for the botched installation of a generator that resulted in a diesel fuel spill.

“Failing to ensure that the fire department is notified immediately once a flammable or combustible liquid has spilled, is a serious offence,” said Ed Kujat, fire marshal with the Calgary Fire Department.

“There is risk to both people and the environment.”

A spill of about 300 litres of diesel fuel occurred on June 21, 2011 at Fifth Avenue Place, which is at 420 – 2nd Street SW in downtown Calgary.

The incident took place on the roof of the 34-storey building, during the installation of a new generator and diesel storage tank.

No one was injured. Staff and contractors working on-site took more than two hours after the spill was detected to notify emergency responders.

Upon arrival, fire crews activated the fire alarm and immediately evacuated the building.

“Serious incidents such as this require emergency responders to be involved,” said Kujat.

“It’s a public safety issue. Building owners, managers and operators have a legal duty to ensure that they are in compliance with the Alberta Fire Code and the Safety Codes Act. We are pleased that this responsibility was recognized and re-enforced by the courts.”

A numbered company, 1023808 Alberta Ltd., Brookfield Properties Management Corporation and Brookfield Properties Ltd. have been found guilty of one count each of failing to immediately notify the fire department under the Alberta Fire Code.

In handing down a decision, the trial judge recognized that the consequences of this spill could have been catastrophic, if the diesel fuel had entered the roof of the drainage system and/or ignited.

The Alberta Fire Code (2006) limits the maximum fines for charges in this instance to $15,000 per offence.

The maximum fine for violations of the Alberta Fire Code increased significantly in December 2012 to $100,000 per offence, from $15,000.

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