File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS The Calgary Fire Department announced the charges against Premium Fire Protection Ltd. and 10 of its employees Monday after a seven-month investigation. It’s alleged the company allowed unqualified and uncertified workers to install alarms, extinguishers and other equipment in large grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants in Calgary.

Safety company shocked to learn of 65 fire code charges in Calgary

CALGARY — A fire safety company says it’s shocked it has been slapped with 65 charges under the Alberta Fire Code.

The Calgary Fire Department announced the charges against Premium Fire Protection Ltd. and 10 of its employees Monday after a seven-month investigation.

It’s alleged the company allowed unqualified and uncertified workers to install alarms, extinguishers and other equipment in large grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants in Calgary.

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

Premium says in an emailed statement that it has nine offices in four provinces, 50 employees and more than 70 years of experience.

It says its number 1 priority is the safety and security of its clients and the communities where it operates.

“We are taking the allegations extremely seriously and are thoroughly examining each event in question,” CEO Kurt Bertrand said in a statement.

“Had the City of Calgary Fire Department contacted us or our employees, we would have provided verification of certification. Premium stands behind its work, and it is reaching out to its employees and its customers to provide them with appropriate assurances.”

The company said it believes Albertans benefit when service providers, clients and regulators work together to ensure the highest safety standards.

“With this in mind, it is extremely disappointing that the City of Calgary Fire Department did not reach out to verify our employees’ professional certifications prior to releasing the citations publicly,” it said.

“This step would have prevented the unnecessary citations of our employees and our valued customers.”

The company said it looks forward to working with Calgary’s fire department to ensure it has the necessary certification that verifies its professionalism and standards.

Deputy fire chief Ken Uzeloc said Monday that his department has never had an investigation that has been so lengthy or resulted in so many charges. It was the result of a witness coming forward to report concerns.

“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 been no indication the equipment had actually been installed incorrectly or anyone was in danger.

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, city prosecutor Paul Frank said. Fine amounts are determined in court.

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