Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine (Aug. 2014)
A community in northern Ontario is mourning the loss of Children’s Aid worker Nicole Belair, who died on May 13, 2014 after succumbing to burn injuries from a building fire that had occurred on the previous day.
Belair, who worked for the Children’s Aid Society of the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin, was on her way to the home of a client in Hanmer, 25 kilometres north of Sudbury, when the fire erupted inside another apartment on the second floor of the housing complex.
Belair brought her client to safety, but for unknown reasons, returned to the building where the fire continued to blaze. Those who knew the 30-year-old worker suspect that she was attempting to rescue the occupant in the unit where the fire had originated.
“As the person fled from the unit of origin, the fire extended from the unit of origin into the hallway. When it moves into the hallway, the energy from the unit of origin is now in the hallway, and that is where it trapped the CAS worker,” reports Chris Williams, Assistant Deputy fire Marshal of investigations.
Firefighters retrieved Blair, who was unconscious, on the top floor of the building. She received injuries that later contributed to her death.
This was a tragic accident. Nicole Blair cared enough to attempt further rescue and was killed in the attempt. It is difficult to place blame here to the CAS since she this type of incident was probably never discussed or not discussed in depth. The usual training talks about self-preservation but Nicole was a selfless individual and NOT going back in was not an option. Difficult to suggest corrective action.
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Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.