File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A City of Calgary employee cleans the glass of an entranceway at city hall in Calgary. The City of Calgary has laid 65 fire code charges against a fire protection company and 10 of its employees.

Fire protection company, other businesses facing charges in Calgary

CALGARY — A fire safety company has been accused of allowing improperly trained workers to install alarms, extinguishers and other live-saving equipment in large grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants in Calgary.

Premium Fire Protection Ltd. and 10 of its employees are facing 65 charges under the Alberta Fire Code, the Calgary Fire Department said Monday.

Another 15 charges have also been laid against businesses that hired Premium Fire Protection, which the city is not identifying.

“We’ve never had an investigation this lengthy or involving this many charges before,” said deputy fire chief Ken Uzeloc.

“It’s very concerning because we’re talking about life safety systems that are there not only for the protection of employees and citizens in these facilities, but also for firefighters who respond to emergencies in these facilities.”

Uzeloc said there has no indication the equipment had actually been installed incorrectly or anyone was in danger.

A seven-month investigation led to the charges and the city has said there’s the possibility more will be laid.

“We want to remind businesses retaining services that it’s their responsibility to verify the life safety system installers and that these inspectors and (maintenance workers) are qualified and certified to do the work,” said city prosecutor Paul Frank.

Under the provincial fire code, companies and people can be fined up to $100,000 or face six months in jail for a first offence and up to $500,000 for subsequent ones, Frank said. Fine amounts are determined in court.

Premium Fire Protection had not been on the fire department’s radar until a witness came forward to report the issue, said fire safety codes officer Frank Schroder.

He added businesses that hire fire protection companies should ask for documents to prove that whoever is doing the work is accredited.

“If you do not attain the certification or the necessary qualifications, you shouldn’t be working on any systems.”

Premium Fire Protection’s website says it has offices across the Prairies. Uzeloc said Calgary’s fire marshal has been in touch with authorities in other jurisdictions.

No one from the company immediately responded when asked for comment.

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