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Fire department responds to chlorine leak at rec centre pool

Ryan Macintosh and Terry Swityk hose and scrub down fellow Salmon Arm firefighters Brian Brook and Tyler Stevenson, who dressed in encapsulted suits Thursday morning to investigate a report of a chlorine leak at the SASCU Recreation Centre pool.  - Lachlan Labere
Ryan Macintosh and Terry Swityk hose and scrub down fellow Salmon Arm firefighters Brian Brook and Tyler Stevenson, who dressed in encapsulted suits Thursday morning to investigate a report of a chlorine leak at the SASCU Recreation Centre pool.
— image credit: Lachlan Labere

A small chlorine leak provided a successful safety systems test at the SASCU Recreation Centre swimming pool.

Early Thursday morning, the Salmon Arm Fire Department responded to a chlorine alarm at the centre.

On the scene, firefighters met with staff and determined there was an actual leak, originating from the chlorine dispensing room accessed from 24th Street NE.

Dressed in hazard suits, firefighters Brian Brook and Tyler Stevenson entered the room to investigate. What they found, said Fire Chief Brad Shirley, was a leaking water pipe.

Shirley said the chlorine gas level was far from dangerous but, as a precautionary measure, “we evacuated a bit of the area and made sure people weren’t in too close of proximity.”

For Darby Boyd, the rec centre's business and operations manager, the incident demonstrated the sophisticated safety systems in place are working as they’re supposed to.

Boyd confirmed the leak occurred in the dispensing room, where chlorine bottles are stored and monitored by a detection system that’s triggered when a gas level above one-part-per million is detected. At this point, said Boyd, an automatic shut-off system kicks in, preventing further leakage.

“We have three levels that come up and anything above two-parts-per-million… a light comes on and as soon as the light comes on, our staff initiate manual protocols as well…,” said Boyd, adding the light activated Thursday, sending staff into action, which includes contacting the fire department.

“We have mask systems where they can enter the room when it’s really, really low parts per million, but anything over that requires a full suit, which our fire department is equipped for.”

Speaking to the damage, Boyd said it was an inch-and-a-half water line that feeds the hot tub with water injected with chlorine gas.

“The water pipe broke actually, so with the water pipe breaking, it released whatever gas was between that break and the bottles,” he said. “As soon as that happened, the system kicked in…”

Boyd explained the rec centre’s auto shut-off system was installed in 2010, prior to the 2012 incident at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex pool in Williams Lake where 70 people were hospitalized as a result of a chlorine gas leak. After that incident, the province stepped up its inspections of swimming facilities with chlorination systems, says Boyd.

“And so, even though we were already ahead of the curve with the auto shut-offs, they still did their inspections and recommendations for changes,” said Boyd, noting system upgrades are implemented annually.

“So when we were doing some of our upgrades this year, the comments we got back were, based on our auto shut-offs and everything like that, that we have one of the more sophisticated safety systems for chlorine gas in the province.

“It worked to perfection today.”

 

 

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