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Perilous operation in Lachine | Montreal firefighters call for the end of the nautical rescue service



(Montreal) The Montreal Firefighters Association wants to suspend nautical rescue operations until its members have received training to perform operations safely. A recent incident in the St. Lawrence brought to mind the tragic death of a firefighter, trapped under his boat which had overturned in the Lachine Rapids.

On the night of October 24 to 25, a crew, looking for a victim who had jumped from the top of the Mercier bridge into the St. Lawrence, found themselves in an area “not navigable and not marked for the public” , the union said in a statement.

The situation, which could have turned tragic, is reminiscent of the one that cost the life of Pierre Lacroix, a 58-year-old firefighter, and injured three of his comrades, on October 17, 2021.

The CNESST had also questioned the nautical training of firefighters and the safety of rescue boats used by the Montreal Fire Department, following the death of Pierre Lacroix.


Funeral of firefighter Pierre Lacroix, who died on duty during a nautical rescue operation on October 17, 2021

“The only solution is the complete and complete suspension of the water rescue service until the training, the equipment, the number of responders and boats and the capacity of the service to manage and intervene in such missions are to avoid losing lifeguards again,” said union vice-president Richard Lafortune.

The Montreal Firefighters Association, which brings together more than 2,000 firefighters in Greater Montreal, denounces to the CNESST the shortcomings of training in nautical rescue.

The union points out the absence of “resource people” to supervise the staff and the need for a “precise educational plan”. Members also complain about the failure to adhere to the standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The members of the union also denounce the lack of procedures concerning the return to service of the boats after their storage.

” The syndicate [poursuit] actively its interventions and representations with the competent bodies and authorities, in the name of the physical integrity of its members”, can we read in the press release.

After the death of Pierre Lacroix, the CNESST had prohibited navigation in the unmarked area of ​​the Lachine rapids, where the firefighter had lost his life. The Commission had also issued a statement of offense to the City for having compromised the safety of lifeguards.

According to the organization, the boat should never have gone so far in the sector, because of the “limitations” of the boat, the CNESST had then concluded in a report.

On November 21, coroner Géhane Kamel’s inquest into the death of Pierre Lacroix should begin.

With Isabelle Ducas, The Pressand The Canadian Press

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