Identifying construction method will help Puslinch firefighters fight fires

PUSLINCH – The Puslinch fire department hopes to enhance the safety of firefighters by identifying buildings in the township constructed with truss and lightweight floor and roof components and marking them with an emblem, to be installed at the building’s entrance.

Truss and lightweight building components are very common in commercial, industrial, and residential buildings as they allow for open floor plans and wide spans of interior space.

But they pose risks for firefighters because they can fail very quickly in a fire and are not immediately visible once drywall or other finishing materials are installed.

Interim fire chief Brad Churchill told council at its Feb. 28 meeting, about a tragic incident in 2011 when two firefighters in Listowel entered a store on a fire call, unaware that a fire was raging above their heads until the ceiling collapsed, killing both.

The Ontario Building Code changed in 2022 and now fire departments are to be informed, upon issuance of building permits, of any new buildings constructed this way in their jurisdictions.

But the legislation doesn’t include existing buildings.

Churchill hoped council would pass a bylaw requiring all buildings in the township constructed with truss and lightweight floor and roof components to be identified and an emblem affixed by the main entrance, so firefighters know what they are dealing with.

Churchill said the cost of the emblems is about $1,800 and could be absorbed into the department’s existing budget.

The work of identifying these buildings – commercial, industrial, or residential with more than three units – would be incorporated into the regular duties of fire suppression and fire prevention divisions. There is no cost to the building owner.

“We’d like to be proactive in this,” Churchill said.

Council had no issue with the proposal and passed the bylaw.