More than 100 firefighters in Gatineau are currently banned from responding to emergencies where there might be dangerous contaminants after Quebec’s workplace health and safety board (CNESST) found the personal protective equipment for such scenarios is outdated. Testing on masks, used to protect firefighters from contaminants such as gases, smoke and dust, needs to be done every two years, the report stated, but stations are running behind.
The report did not specify how often tests are being conducted.
CNESST carried out an inspection of one fire station last week and concluded current practices put workers at a health a safety risk. Nancy Lemoine from the Outaouais Prevention Inspection Service has since ordered 103 firefighters to avoid attending scenes where that equipment is necessary. The directive applies to all fire stations across the city. Firefighters can respond to all scenes only once tests have been successfully completed.
The report follows a complaint from the Association des pompiers et pompières de Gatineau, the union that represents Gatineau firefighters. The union had previously flagged the issue of outdated equipment in a separate complaint about protective clothing in 2018.
CNESST officials have called on the city to take action. A more detailed report is expected from the board in the coming days.