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Port Metro Vancouver fire raises concerns about container contents

Vancouver: Two weeks after the Port Metro Vancouver chemical fire at the Centerm terminal, concerns are being raised about emergency services’ preparedness for future such fires, the Business in Vancouver website reported on Tuesday

The March 4 Vancouver fire began in a container from China that held trichloroisocyanuric acid and it sent a cloud of white smoke spreading over parts of the city. Nobody was seriously hurt in the incident.

Vancouver fire chief John McKearney told the website that in this case the incident was tackled as well as possible, but it could have been worse.

“We figured out it was a Class 1 oxidizer out of four classes of oxidizers,” McKearney said. “In the realm of oxidizers, it’s the least concerning. There are certainly other products that would have been more dangerous for us to concern ourselves with.”

For McKearney the incident prompted questions about what is being shipped through the region. Fire departments need more information about what is commonly being shipped and in what quantities, McKearney said.

In the case of the March 4 fire communication between Centerm terminal operator DP World, Port Metro Vancouver and the fire department worked well enough that the fire department had information about the chemical in less than 10 minutes, McKearney told Business in Vancouver.

But he warned that without more knowledge of the types and quantities of dangerous goods being transported, first responders could be left without the right types of supplies – such as certain types of fire-suppressing foam or soda ash – or enough of them.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.
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