Saanich holds ammonia leak exercise one year after deadly incident in Fernie


WATCH: Saanich holds an ammonia leak exercise a year after a deadly incident at an arena in Fernie.

On Wednesday, several agencies held an ammonia leak training exercise one year after a deadly incident at an arena in Fernie, B.C.

“Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to trigger this second look at what we’re doing here,” said Dan Wood, Saanich’s deputy fire chief. “The tragic accident in Fernie really woke up the province to the current state.”

The training scenario on Wednesday involved a car that had crashed into the G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre.

The arena uses an ammonia refrigeration system for the ice rink, similar to what is used in Fernie and other arenas across the province.

“Something like this I would see as part of future planning and future training as well, and allow us to figure out where those needs are, and then for us to fulfill that in the future,” said Pearkes manager Graham Thomson.

It was the first training exercise of its kind in Saanich.

Dozens of people were involved, including emergency crews as well as personnel at Saanich’s emergency operations centre.

“This event, with this number of people, would be what we would consider a level three activation,” said Maegan Thompson, Saanich Fire’s emergency program officer. “It would be running for days and we’d be operating 24/7.”

The exercise was made possible by a $25,000 grant from the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

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