City of London fined after firefighters injured

File photo by Alec Ross,

The City of London has been fined after two firefighters were injured last year during a training exercise.

The Ministry of Labour said on June 15, 2018, a group of firefighters with the London Fire Department were conducting a training exercise on Lake Fanshawe to familiarize them with the lake and the trails surrounding it in the event of an emergency rescue.

After the fire crews were called back to shore, they noticed that an inflatable raft being used in the exercise was low in the water.  One of the firefighters unscrewed the keel valve, but accidentally removed the whole valve instead of just the cap, which let out any remaining air. The valve was then replaced and one firefighter held the tip of a compressed gas cylinder against the valve, while another worker held up the bottom end of the cylinder.  When the gas cylinder was opened to release air into the raft, the keel valve exploded due to over inflation.

The firefighter holding the bottom of the cylinder was struck by an equipment bag in the resulting explosion, while the other was struck by a piece of plywood flooring. Both firefighters were injured as a result but only one required medical attention.

A ministry investigation found that the four firefighters who were present had not been trained in the operation or inflation of the raft. As well, it was determined that a foot pump should have been used for inflation, rather than a compressed gas cylinder.

On Thursday, the City of London pleaded guilty in provincial offences court for failing to provide the foot pump and was fined $55,000. The court also imposed a 25 per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act.