When the fire alarm rang at Saskatoon City Hospital late one Friday night in December, staff responded quickly to evacuate the area and contain the fire. Ian McCannell, SCH’s fire marshall, also responded. As fire marshall, McCannell is responsible for coordinating fire drills so staff can respond quickly when a real fire breaks out as they did in December. Similarly, staff at Parkridge Centre responded quickly to a fire in September, helping residents move out of the affected area quickly and safely.

Fire marshalls look after a facility’s fire system and organize inspections as well as certification of fire equipment.

Fire Marshall Ian McCannell ensures departments conduct fire drills so they’re prepared to respond to real fires.

“The fire marshalls play an important role,” says Elaine Leite, the Region’s Emergency Planner. “Without the coordination they provide for fire drills, we would be ill-prepared to respond to fires. There is also a possibility we could be fined up to $10,000 by the Fire Department for non-compliance with the Fire Prevention Act if fire drills are not conducted.”

“Fire marshalls are a crucial piece in the way we conduct ourselves during a code red and in ensuring our facilities are properly equipped to respond adequately to a fire,” says Sandra Blevins, VP of Clinical Operations and Support. “I thank each of the 59 fire marshalls for the work they do in Saskatoon Health Region.”

“In discussion with the fire investigator,” says Maureen Beisel, Manager, Resident Care Services at Parkridge Centre, “he stated that ‘the fire was an accident caused by an electrical appliance. Accidents do happen, however, the response by the PRC staff was ‘perfect’. It was the best response that could be expected.’ He also stated ‘that it was apparent the drills and learning from our drills were put into action.’ He encouraged the PRC team to continue with regular drills and to promote within the Health Region, the importance of doing these emergency drills on a regular basis.”

The Health Region does yearly inspections with local fire departments looking into storage of equipment and material to ensure they leave room for fire sprinklers to work and don’t block escape routes. They also look into the state of electrical appliances. “We don’t like to see kitchenettes set up everywhere,” says McCannell. “We’re trying to steer people clear of having small appliances all over the place. We also look for extension cords and encourage people to use power bars instead.”

Fire extinguishers have to be inspected monthly and the Region hires a contractor to do yearly inspections.

McCannell and Leite say it’s important for every department in the Health Region to have a Code Red (fire) plan to protect themselves, patients, residents, clients and visitors.

“This is a health-care facility,” says McCannell, “and we may have to help patients and residents, so as staff, we have to remain on the ball in terms of being prepared.”