UA-74833448-1 How Safe Is Your Arena? –

How Safe Is Your Arena?

We hear of the recent tragedy in Fernie at the local hockey arena and at first our thoughts go out to the Families of the three individuals who are no longer with us.

It’s speculated that the three are arena ice maintenance workers who went to work in hopes of simply doing their job, not expecting any issues – and realistically why would you.

It’s a daily routine that you do week in and week out working to keep the complex “spick and span” so the public can enjoy what your City, Town or Village might have for the Families to enjoy.

It’s a job that at times isn’t the most glamorous, but when it comes down to it – it’s rewarding cause you are like a local PR person who know’s everyone as well as their issues, not to mention that you know all the “Kids” in the area.

We are hearing of what is describe as a possible Ammonia leak at the Ice Arena in Fernie that forced the evacuation of homes, businesses as well as a retirement home in the immediate area of the Arena.

In addition to this situation, Parents should be cautious in arena’s that use propane on the Zamboni where (at times) Players/Officials or Team personnel have mentioned that they could smell propane near the ice.

It’s nothing to take lightly and given the seriousness of this situation you should be contacting your local Parks and Rec Board to see when the last time your arena was checked?

In addition the arena should post these findings on a display board in the local arena for the public to see, but to do this you have to take action!!

Canada has roughly 2,500 arenas from Coast to Coast, and Daniel Giguere who is the refrigeration and heat pump expert for the Federal Ministry of Natural Resources, indicates that Ammonia is used in more than half of the rinks in Canada.

It’s reported by WorkSafeBC that based on all preliminary information, three (3) Arena workers were exposed to a gas leak prior to noon.

The City declared a seven-day state of emergency and mentioned that residents in the evacuation area were provided overnight accommodations and the number of individuals that had to leave the area is currently not made available.

Fernie’s Fire chief Ted Ruiter mentioned at the time of the incident the situation was somewhat under control” and the emergency crews were waiting to safely enter the Fernie Memorial Arena as of late Tuesday.

It was not known if  any others were inside the arena at the time of the leak, but it reported that there were no injuries in addition to the deaths.

The city of Fernie sent a news release stating that “it is working with CIMCO Refrigeration and trying to get additional specialized resources to deal with the hazardous situation.”

It should be noted that Ammonia is commonly used in mechanical refrigeration systems which include those in your local ice rink.

Ammonia is used in liquid form in these systems but becomes a gas once it is released into the air.

Be aware that some of the symptoms of Ammonia poisoning may include coughing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest and some of the symptoms could develop hours after the exposure.