Calgary Fire Department relaxes ‘hot works’ rules to allow for construction during water main break

via LiveWire Calgary By Darren Krause

Houses under construction in the community of Livingston in Calgary on Monday, August 28, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

The Calgary Construction Association (CCA) is happy to see the City of Calgary relax rules around so-called ‘hot works’ that they said would have kept more than 800 roofers out of work.

The CCA put out information on Monday indicating that the City of Calgary’s current fire ban would impact the ability of city roofers to do their jobs. The citywide fire ban is in place right now due to the water conservation efforts as a result of the Bowness water feeder main break.

“The decision to ban all ‘hot works’ in #Calgary has left at least 800 roofers without work during a prime construction period. We urge the CFD to reconsider and implement a balanced, safety-first solution that doesn’t halt the construction industry,” the CCA posted to X, formerly Twitter, on Monday afternoon.

“The ban is a massive blow to the construction industry during a critical time – disrupting momentum, project completion, and more. Let’s find a balanced approach that ensures safety without halting progress.”

In Tuesday’s Executive Committee briefing on the Bowness water main, Calgary Fire Department Chief Steve Dongworth said that they’d been speaking with the CCA after they raised concerns Monday evening.

“In our conversations with Mr. (Bill) Black from the CCA overnight, actually, as this meeting is going on, we’re relaxing some of those restrictions as we see increased confidence in the water supply within the city, as water services have done a great job of topping up the reservoirs around the city,” said Chief Dongworth.

He said they’ve also implemented other strategies for getting water for large firefighting efforts, if needed, in Calgary.

“Whereas we were very comfortable with the decision to ban all hot works last week and through the weekend and even as late as yesterday, we’re willing to move more in concert with industry to allow them to continue with their work,” Dongworth said.

Relaxations allow some hot works to continue

The relaxations will allow certain lower-risk ‘hot works’ solutions, as long as stringent safety protocols are undertaken.

They will allow hot-air welding and cold processes, provided that companies maintain a fire watch as specified by the 2023 National Fire Code (Alberta Edition). That means they also need a 60-minute fire watch, post application, and a follow-up inspection four hours after the completion of work. It also requires additional fire extinguishers on site.

“While certain high-risk hot works, such as those involving open flames or bitumen/tar kettles on new and existing buildings, remain prohibited, we understand these measures as they prioritize the most high-risk operations,” the CCA said in a prepared statement on the matter.

“We urge our members to comply with these guidelines and to seek clarification or permission for essential work by contacting with their Fire Safety Plans.”

They said they appreciated the Calgary Fire Department working with them to allow roofers to continue working in a responsible manner. The CFD said they also appreciated the willingness of the CCA to collaborate on a solution.

“This has been in concert, in collaboration with the construction industry, and they’ve been very helpful, and we’ve collaborated with them to make sure that we know there’s a need for construction in the City of Calgary, and we don’t want to see people out of work,” said Chief Steve Dongworth.

“We certainly appreciate the efforts that they’ve made to date, as well as the efforts of citizens in reducing water, which has got us to a better place today, without question.”

Article by Lena Hogarth
June 13, 2024

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