Fernie Memorial Arena Incident Update

Today WorkSafe BC released its report and orders regarding the October 17, 2017 ammonia leak at the Fernie Memorial Arena. It is the second report released by the agencies investigating the incident; Technical Safety BC (TSBC) issued their report July 25, 2018. City of Fernie Chief Administrative Officer, Norm McInnis stated:

“The City of Fernie still feels the loss of three valuable men.  We know how essential it is to take worker safety seriously. Based on the findings of this and the TSBC report, we now all have the benefit of hindsight. We now know that mixing coolants, as led to the incident, creates a hazard – something no one in the industry knew before.

We continue to reflect on the learnings of this terrible accident. It compels us all to think about how to improve. While we can’t change what happened, we can do more to look holistically at all aspects of how our city functions in a way to make safety not just a goal we meet but a culture we embody. We want to particularly look at how we improve documentation and internal communications – two areas we agree with WorkSafeBC that could benefit from improvement.

We can also commit that the City of Fernie will do everything we can to help other municipalities learn from this. We have seen a number of arenas close due to similar coolant contamination issues, including in our area and we want to ensure it never happens again.

Although we don’t see that the report points out anything specific we could have done to prevent this tragedy, administration and Council will take time to review the report and orders in detail to learn from it.”

The City has hired a contactor and a new refrigeration system for the Arena is being installed in time for the 2018/2019 season.