Today marked two years since the tragic ammonia leak at Fernie Memorial Arena. The City of Fernie lowered their flags to half mast in remembrance. City of Fernie/Facebook

Two years later, City of Fernie remembers

Oct. 17, 2019 marks two years since the tragic ammonia leak at Fernie Memorial Arena

Today the City of Fernie (COF) gathered to remember the three men lost two years ago in an ammonia leak at Fernie Memorial Arena.

COF interim CAO Don Schaffer said the loss of Wayne Hornquist, Lloyd Smith and Jason Podloski is felt every day at their organization.

This morning the City’s facilities were closed for an hour, and flags were lowered to half mast.

“It was important for all of us to close our facilities this morning and take time to remember them,” said Schaffer.

In the years since the event, Schaffer explained that the City has made significant changes to the operation of Fernie Memorial Arena.

One year ago, the arena was reopened with a new refrigeration plant that is housed outside the main building, and uses a synthetic refrigerant instead of ammonia.

Following their investigation into the Fernie incident, Technical Safety BC released 18 recommendations for arena owners, maintenance contractors, local B.C. governments, and training providers to prevent a repeat of the tragedy. They also offered a number of educational programs to augment skills and knowledge about the dangers of ammonia releases.

The organization commented on the two-year anniversary, saying they continue to emphasize the need for continued safety enhancements across industry. This, they say, reduces the potential for ammonia release incidents.

“Safety is a shared responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Technical Safety BC President and CEO, Catherine Roome.

“While the owners of these facilities are ultimately responsible for the ongoing maintenance and replacement of their equipment and ensuring their staff are trained appropriately, we have technical expertise and supporting data that can be used to help these organizations mitigate risk. We are here to support with education, resources, and training.”

City of Fernie mayor Ange Qualizza said the City supports Technical Safety BC in their continued efforts to improve safety standards for arena refrigeration plants across the Province.

“What happened in Fernie was heartbreaking for all of us,” said Qualizza. “We lost three men on Oct. 17, 2017, and the work of Technical Safety BC will ensure the lessons learned in Fernie will prevent other communities from going through a similar tragedy.”

Look back: Hundreds attend community memorial



editor@thefreepress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Former Grand Forks fire chief suing city for wrongful dismissal

Dale Heriot was fired in July 2019 after his department was investigated for safety, bullying issues

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary seeks online feedback on transit, housing

Surveys on the RDKB’s website are asking for input to help plan for the future

School District 51 staff iron out plan for return to classrooms

Teachers are looking for a comprehensive health and safety plan to be in place before June 1

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read