The wind storm resulted in multiple calls for fire department

Fire crews were out working in the community all day Thursday, responding to calls related to the storm that rushed through the area the night before.

The fire department did some planning ahead of time to ensure they would be ready for whatever nature brought for the city.

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Estevan Fire Chief Dale Feser said that the outcomes of the storm were, to a point, different from what they expected. 

"We were very fortunate because we thought initially that we were going to have to be responding to a lot of motor vehicle collisions or stranded motorists out on the highways, which wasn't the case for us as for other departments," Feser said.

He went on to point out that the storm, with wind gusting up to 120 kilometres per hour, rolled into the Estevan area later at night and early in the morning, and most people were already home by that time.

The first call for service for the Estevan Fire Rescue came in at 6 a.m. on Thursday. A commercial fire alarm went off in the northeast part of Estevan.

There was no visible smoke or flame on the exterior. Firefighters entered the building and found no cause for the alarm inside either, but they encountered another problem.

"It was noted upon arrival that the exterior door to the apartment complex has been ripped off from the wind. This allowed the snow to enter into there and melt into the fire alarm panel, shorting it out. So this was deemed the cause of this particular alarm," Feser said.

Crews just finished up on that case, when another call came in from the same area of the city. A powerline was down and arching was occurring a couple of blocks away from the location where they were working. Crews moved over to the next scene and found that broken trees came into contact with powerlines and ripped off the line supplying power to a private house.

"There was no hazard from down line to the house, however, there were tree branches that were in contact with it creating a situation where SaskPower have to attend the scene to cut the tree branches free."

Once firefighters finished up on that case, they were called to the southeast side of the city to a power pole fire west of the Shand access road. Crews made it to the location to find a working fire in the power pole structure. The wind has broken the structure, bringing parts in contact with each other.

The EFRS established and maintained traffic control until SaskPower arrived on the scene and isolated power to the structure, so the incident could be resolved.

Once back to the station, crews were called out to another arching transformer occurring in the northwest-central part of Estevan.

"Wind had torn some wiring components from the transformer free and periodically they were coming in contact with each other and creating an arching situation," Feser said.

Firefighters established traffic control until SaskPower arrived on the scene and fixed the issue.

The fire department also responded to a call from a member of the public. A person encountered a damaged chimney in the southcentral area of the city, which could create potential danger.

"When we took a look, the actual chimney itself was structurally sound, but there was a ring cap and some of the venting components that are a part of a chimney assembly that became free and were ripped off and were on the ground," Feser said.

Firefighters dealt with an issue and informed the building owner.

After this call, the EFRS also received several inquiries in regards to damaged venting caps and rings.

"This is indeed critical no matter where you live or your business, whether it's vertical ventilation or horizontal, it's there for a reason. And that reason is to have your gases from your hot water heater, furnaces or any gas fire appliances to safely exit the structure.

"Now it's a great time to take a walk around and do the assessment on your home or business. And if you see any damage to the ventilation, you should contact a heating and plumbing company to fix it right away and avoid any carbon monoxide (CO) from entering the (building)."

Feser also reminded the public that CO is odourless, colourless and tasteless but very dangerous gas, so the only way to detect any leaks is to have a properly working CO alarm installed at work and at home.

Prior to the storm, fire crews also responded to a commercial fire alarm. It went off in the northcentral part of Estevan on Wednesday at about 4 p.m. Once on scene, specialists found that the contractors were working inside the building. The scene was deemed safe, and crews returned to the station shortly.

"A reminder that anytime you have contractors working inside producing any dust or smoke in a fire alarm (equipped) building you have to contact the monitoring agency to avoid any unnecessary dispatching of emergency services to the locations," said Feser.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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