It started as just an alarm call for North Sydney Fire Department but when they arrived there was a fire of unknown origin so they called back for reinforcements. Florence and Sydney Mines Fire Department were eventually called to assist in evacuating the hospital.
I believe they have everything under control now. They all manpower available for the police and EMS called in to help out.
NORTH SYDNEY — A fire inside a treadmill sparked some anxious moments at the Northside General Hospital, forcing nearly half of the hospital’s patients to evacuate their beds Sunday afternoon.
Firefighters were initially sent to the hospital— located on Purves Street in North Sydney — at 12:40 p.m. to respond to a routine fire alarm call.
However, as fire trucks were en route to the hospital, a 911 dispatcher informed the fire station that a fire had broken out, said North Sydney firefighter Travis Briand, officer in charge at the scene.
“When we arrived there was heavy smoke and a strong smell of some type of electrical appliance burning,” Briand said.
He said it took about 45 minutes for firefighters to determine that the smoke was coming from the second floor of the hospital.
While they searched and discovered the source of the smoke in a treadmill in the staff fitness room, the decision was made to shut down the ventilation system and evacuate patients from the second and third floors, and several patients from the fourth floor, totalling 40 in all.
It was determined that the motor of the treadmill had seized, causing it to burn. It wasn’t in use at the time.
“Patients were relocated to designated safe areas on the first and the ground floor,” Briand said, adding that the Sydney Mines and Florence volunteer fire departments were called in to assist.
Those on the fourth and fifth floors were put under an evacuation alert. Patients there received extra care from Cape Breton Regional Hospital staff who were called in to prepare for a quick move if the fire wasn’t extinguished.
Emergency Health Services had 60 paramedics, some of whom were off duty, involved in the evacuation operation. There were 16 ambulances from across Cape Breton waiting on standby outside the building in case of a mass evacuation.
The Regional Hospital and Harbourview Hospital in Sydney Mines were put on alert and prepared to accept patients as necessary. However, in the end, no one was moved out of the Northside General.
Greg Boone, spokesperson for the Cape Breton District Health Authority, said there were no injuries or complications during the move.
He said the health authority has measures in place to handle an emergency such as this one, and everything went according to plan.
“From the time a decision was made to move the patients, it may have taken in the vicinity of a half hour or so,” Boone said.
“It’s very labour intensive and requires lifting and moving people who are often ambulatory, or confined to beds, or with limited mobility, so it takes a little bit more time.”
He said the building has fire doors in place separating different wings in the hospital, giving staff the time needed to move patients.
By 3:30 p.m. most patients were returned to their beds.
Briand said damage to the fitness room was minimal.
“There was a bit of scorching on the floor. It was a matter of a cleanup of the smoke and on linens and things like that.”
The ventilation system quickly cleared up most of the smoke in the hallway, he said, leaving only a burnt smell in the fitness room.
Iamcaper, if I recall, you mentioned you used to be a fire fighter at some point in your life?
Am I wrong when I say that if there is an alarm for a fire at a building, like the Northside General Hospital, the fire deparment is supposed to send all of it's fire trucks?
I ask this because a source of mine, very reliable, informed me that there was an assumption by somebody that the fire alarm at the hospital was a false alarm. Apparently, one fire truck was sent to the hospital and it wasn't until at least a half-hour later that the fire department called for additional fire fighters.
To me, and to my informant, this sounds like a very risky decision and one which should certainl be looked into! What if somebody at the hospital had been hurt, or worse, killed in the fire? What if the hospital was engulfed in flames?
For the fire department to send one fire truck and to tell the remaining trucks to remain at the fire station was a premature decision that could have cost lives and a hospital.
Again, correct me if I'm wrong but was is the normal procedure for an instance such as this?
The best news is the news the newspapers can't tell you!
To answer your questions, Newshound, yes I was a fire fighter in the past. While every department has it's own policies on how they respond to calls, the department I was on had a policy that any alarm in any structure would be taken seriously and you would roll all the equipment you could.
In this particular case, all trucks would be dispatched to the call as soon as you had manpower available to do so.
Time is of the utmost importance and even seconds can determine whether a fire can be contained or if the structure, or in a worst case scenario, lives, could be lost. It may only take 2 minutes to get from the fire station to the fire but a building could be completely engulfed in less time.
My opinion, and it is only my opinion, is that the fact that it took as long as it did to figure out what the source was would be reason enough to call for additional manpower, just as a safety precaution. You don't take chances when lives are at stake. And when some of those are the lives of people who are bed ridden, you have to be even more cautious.