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MPP: Arthur Tim Hortons’ fire illustrates need for passage of Rea and Walter Act

QUEEN'S PARK - Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece believes that although there was no loss of life in a July 21 fire at Tim Hortons in Arthur, the outcome could have been far worse.

The MPP says firefighters were initially unaware the building used truss and lightweight construction.

In April 2017, Pettapiece introduced the Rea and Walter Act, which would require truss and lightweight construction to be identified on most commercial and industrial buildings. Despite unanimous support from all parties, the bill died when the previous Liberal government failed to act on it.

The Rea and Walter Act is named in memory of two North Perth Fire Service members, Ken Rea and Ray Walter, who died battling a fire in March 2011.

Speaking in the Ontario Legislature on Aug. 1, Pettapiece said July 21 was “no ordinary Saturday afternoon” at the Arthur Tim Hortons. Employees discovered a fire, and 30 firefighters soon arrived at the scene.

No one was injured and North Wellington North Fire Service Fire Chief Dave Guilbault stated, “Staff did an excellent job, followed all procedures, got everybody out.”

However Pettapiece said in Guilbault wrote to the MPP advising, “The fire started in the ceiling cavity. It had been burning for some time before staff noticed smoke. The occupants were totally unaware the fire was burning above their heads!”

At first, firefighters could not have known the building was made of truss and lightweight construction, Pettapiece stated.

He added that Guilbault explained, “Our firefighters did an excellent job of containing and extinguishing the fire, however we believe we were within moments of roof collapse. We were not aware that the roof trusses were lightweight. There was no way of knowing. There could have been serious injuries or loss of life.”

Pettapiece stated in his speech, “Firefighters need to know which buildings contain truss and lightweight construction. When fire breaks out, they need to know how to attack it safely. And they need us to pass the Rea and Walter Act, which would clearly identify affected buildings.

“My private member’s bill passed second reading unanimously, but the previous government didn’t follow through.

“I look forward to discussing this lifesaving legislation with our new Minister of Community Safety.”

August 10, 2018


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