Potential disaster averted at Victoria Shipyard

Firefighters from Esquimalt, naval base team up on fire call

Victoria Shipyard workers are being credited for preventing the spread of flames found licking at electrical panels at the Esquimalt Graving Dock Tuesday night.

CFB Esquimalt firefighters responded at 7:12 p.m. to several reports of a serious structure fire. When firefighters arrived on the south jetty, workers were using fire extinguishers to prevent the spread of fire that was burning around electrical junction boxes, breaker boxes and a transformer, mounted on an exterior wall of a wooden two-storey carpentry shop and classroom.

Using thermal imaging equipment, firefighters determined the blaze had spread into the structure’s walls. The flames were knocked down by 7:30 p.m.

Damage is estimated at $50,000. There were no injuries.

“The actions of the shipyard workers definitely contributed to preventing the fire from being more serious than it was,” said CFB Esquimalt Deputy Fire Chief Rick LeQuesne.

LeQuesne’s team remained on scene for three hours, much of it spent clearing thick smoke from the building.

The incident marks the first time the base fire department called the Esquimalt Fire Department for assistance, under a new mutual-aid agreement that was signed March 19.

“We went down there and established a rapid-intervention team for them and provided some assistance outside,” said Esquimalt assistant fire chief Gib Small. “Any time firefighters go into a structure, they have to set up a minimum of a two-person team, to be prepared in case any of the firefighters that have gone inside need rescue.”

There are limitations to the level of support the Esquimalt crew can provide base firefighters, given the specialized nature of fighting fires onboard vessels.

“If they have a fire on a ship, we won’t go down below decks,” Small said. “We would stay on shore, help with the hose handling, operate pumps, things like that.”

The mutual-aid agreement has already proven beneficial to both departments.

Prior to Tuesday night’s fire, base firefighters provided support to Esquimalt crews Saturday afternoon after a patio chair caught fire on a balcony at an apartment building near Esquimalt and Admirals roads.

The fire departments have been training together in recent months, and familiarizing themselves with each other’s vehicles and equipment.

“It’s beneficial to both departments because we can support each other,” LeQuesne said. “We’re right next door to Esquimalt, so if they require assistance at a fire, we’re very close to their area.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

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