Trailer park fire hydrants not up to snuff

The view from the fire hydrant closest to the trailer which went up in flames June 1.

KAMLOOPS - Nothing has changed in the Iron Mask Trailer Park since a fire claimed one mobile home on June 1, and it appears nothing will change.

The home remains charred with its windows boarded up and various items strewn in front of it. A fire hydrant sits 30 feet away, but water pressure to that hydrant, along with a second one in the park, isn’t sufficient for firefighting.

Chief Fire Prevention officer Dean Olstad says the trailer park’s hydrants are still considered operable despite being part of an old infrastructure which had lower standards.

“Nothing’s really changed in that park,” he says. “There’s a few pockets of town (where) for one reason or another, development hasn’t occurred. If you don’t change anything you just maintain what you have."

Olstad says installing a new water system with increased pressure for the hydrants would be expensive. He adds the city typically dispatches a water tender truck to that park in the event of a fire which, when partnered with the hydrants, provides enough water flow to extinguish the blaze. In the case of last month’s fire, Olstad said a water tender truck was deployed after dispatchers found out flames were coming out of the roof. He says the water within the hydrants, though low pressure, is enough to keep the tender going. 

Darren Crabbe, who was renting the trailer, says he noticed the hydrants didn’t work when firefighters tried to use them the day a kitchen grease fire got away on him.

“They (hydrants) weren’t working when the fire happened. Then I watched my house burn to the ground,” he says.

Crabbe travels back to the park to collect whatever is salvageable from the rubble, but had no rental insurance at the time of the fire. His family lost everything and turned to an online campaign to raise funds.

A neighbour, who asked not to be identified out of fear of reprisals from the owner of the park, says this wasn’t the first time there was a fire issue there and fears it won’t be the last.

“The fire department has known (the hydrants are deficient) for more than a decade,” the neighbour says. “I don’t have enough pressure to take a shower on a hot day.”

The neighbour says firefighters encountered a similar issue when they tried to use the hydrants to extinguish a car which caught on fire within the park years ago. Despite the car incident and the trailer fire, the neighbour says other residents still pay little heed; they still light bonfires in their backyards.

“That’s what makes me nervous,” the neighbour says.

Other neighbours in the park also said they worried about fire protection.

Because the hydrants are private, the owner of the park is required under a bylaw to submit inspection report results within a deadline of March 15 to May 15 each year. But Olstad says the department hasn’t received the park's results yet. He adds the city compiles a list of properties labelled “delinquent” and sends out letters requesting inspection results. The property owner could face fines if results are not delivered.

The owner of the park and Crabbe's trailer, Randy Carrell, says she is compliant with the bylaw.

"We're up to compliance. We're compliant with everything they want," she says. “They’re only probably like a week late. I’ve been in compliance since 1986. My manager phoned (the company to inspect them) and they’re coming up as soon as they can now."

Carrell says the hydrants didn’t work because someone turned them off. She says she doesn’t know who did it.

"It was turned back on the next morning," she says. "The pressure's not off at all."

One of the two fire hydrants in the park
One of the two fire hydrants in the park

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at gbrothen@infonews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

Editor's Note in response to allegations from Vernon RCMP Supt. Jim McNamara
Editor’s note: • Watch shifts at the Vernon detachment have fallen to as low as three roadable officers. • The department suffers from chronic understaffing. • Sources, who we trust and who have knowledge of the s

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