The prison fire that saw the evacuation of the segregation unit at Fraser Regional Correction Centre Jan. 20 was monitored by a fire alarm company, not the Maple Ridge Fire Department, says B.C. Corrections.
The incident began when an inmate tried to set ablaze a fire-retardant mattress in an attempt to get at another inmate in the segregation unit, where inmates are sent for disciplinary purposes.
But the mattress only smouldered, creating lots of smoke, but not triggering the fire sprinklers.
B.C. Corrections initially said the fire alarm alerted the fire department, which had no record of any such call.
Instead, it was the monitoring company that was alerted by the fire alarm, Cindy Rose, of corrections, said Thursday.
That company contacted prison staff, which told it that the mattress had been removed and there was no need for the fire department.
Rose said the prison follows the “one-extinguisher rule,” that staff must evacuate a location if the fire can’t be put out with a single fire extinguisher.
“In this circumstance, to avert unnecessary deployment of fire department personnel, the fire alarm company was notified by correctional centre staff that the situation had been dealt with per the “one-extinguisher rule,” she said.
Maple Ridge Fire Department never received a call about the fire, and fire chief Dance Spence was concerned about a report of a fire for which there was no record.
“They do have a monitoring company and they do have protocols in place,” he said.
There have been 131 calls to the prison since 2005.
“Nothing heavy duty,” Spence said. “They’re not a huge drain on our resources at all.”
Nineteen correctional officers were treated for smoke inhalation as they evacuated the inmates from the unit on Jan. 20.
Prison guards aren’t expected to fight fires, which is up to the fire department.
An auditor’s report from 2015, said Fraser Regional had the highest number of violent incidents in the B.C. Corrections system.