Blog Post #1229 – Firefighters Injured During Training Exercise, City of London Fined $55,000

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

Two firefighters were injured while trying to re-inflate part of an inflatable boat that was being used during a training exercise. They were employed with the Corporation of the City of London, Ontario.

On June 15, 2018, four firefighters (“workers” as defined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act) from the London Fire Department’s water team were participating in a training exercise on Lake Fanshawe. The purpose of the training exercise was to acquaint the firefighters with the lake and the trails surrounding it, in the event of an emergency rescue. The water team was using one of three Zodiac Grand Mark III inflatable rafts owned by the department in the exercise.

Prior to the four firefighters/workers boarding the raft, it had been used to set up the exercise on the lake. One of the workers was told by another worker that the keel of the raft was low and that it would need to be topped up with air. The compressed gas cylinder that would be used to fill the keel was already in the boat. No other means of inflating the keel was in the boat.

After completing the exercise, the group was called back to shore by radio. At that time, two of the four workers in the boat noticed that the keel of the boat was low in the water. They decided to stop the boat and top up the keel. One of the workers unscrewed the keel valve, but accidentally removed the whole valve instead of just the cap. This let out any remaining air in the keel bladder.

One of the workers replaced the valve, and then held the tip of the compressed gas cylinder against the valve, while another worker held up the bottom end of the cylinder. The worker holding the tip of the cylinder cracked it open and a few seconds later, the keel exploded.

The worker holding the bottom end of the cylinder was struck by an equipment bag at the front of the boat and was injured but was able to return to work immediately. The other was injured after being struck by plywood flooring that came loose as a result of the blast and required medical attention. The remaining two workers were not injured as they were at the back of the boat.

The (then) Ministry of Labour investigation into the cause of the incident determined that none of the four workers on the boat had been trained in the operation or inflation of the Zodiac raft. There were no procedures in place for operation or inflation of the boat.

A Zodiac technician retained by the MOL determined that the keel had exploded due to over-inflation, and that a foot pump, not a compressed gas cylinder, should have been used for inflation.

Following a guilty plea, the Corporation of the City of London was fined $55,000 in provincial offences court in London by Justice of the Peace Kristine M. Diaz; Crown Counsel Judy L. Chan.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention:

The City of London was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHSA) section 25, subsection 2(h) which states,

“An employer shall,

(h)  take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

It is strange that a city as large as that of London, Ontario, current population of over 500,000, could not employ a CRSP or equivalent to ensure that;

  • JHAs were conducted, and
  • SOPs were created and introduced prior to any work that was to be done.

It just goes to show that even a business like that of a large city has issues and “Continuous Improvement” is necessary to better safeguard the employees on the job.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.



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