It was “common practice” for Premium Fire Protection to use unqualified or uncertified employees to work on fire safety systems, a Calgary court was told Thursday.
In an agreed statement of facts filed to support guilty pleas by former Premium worker Dustan Kurz, Judge Paul Mason was told the sprinkler fitter had raised concerns with company management about his lack of qualification to do certain jobs.
Kurz and fellow former Premium employee Clint Maton each pleaded guilty to charges under the Safety Code Act for fire code violations.
“There were repercussions for refusing to do work for Premium Fire Protection Ltd.,” City of Calgary prosecutor Paul Frank, reading from the court document, told Mason during Kurz’s proceeding.
“In response to his concerns about being unqualified to do work on life safety systems, Dustan Kurz was told by Steve Butler, the general manager of Premium Fire Protection Ltd., at . . . Kurz’s first safety meeting ‘that if I don’t like it, f— off and work somewhere else,’ ” Frank told Mason.
The document was filed in support of charges against Kurz and is not proof of wrongdoing by Okotoks-based Premium, which faces its own charges and has publicly denied any breaches of the fire and safety codes.
Frank said Kurz was hired by the company in the summer of 2018 as a journeyman sprinkler fitter, which allowed him to work on fire sprinkler systems.
“Generally speaking, Dustan Kurz worked alone in the field as an employee of Premium . . . performing work on life safety items that he was not qualified or certified to work on — including kitchen special fire suppression systems, portable fire extinguishers and emergency light checks — on a daily basis at locations across Alberta.”
Kurz’s lawyer, Bev Broadhurst, said her client, who lives in Okotoks, remains unemployed and no longer trusts the industry he’s trained to work in.
Maton, who represented himself and pleaded guilty in a separate proceeding, admitted doing work for which he wasn’t qualified.
But in a witness statement read in by Frank, Maton said he was unaware he wasn’t able to do work involving fire alarm testing and maintenance because he was told Premium owner Kurt Bertrand, who was qualified, was signing the inspections.
In his statement, Maton said many Premium employees received verbal threats if they raised concerns about doing work, they didn’t have the qualifications to do.
Maton was ordered to pay $4,600 in fines and surcharges, while Kurz must pay $5,750.
Fire department spokeswoman Carol Henke said public safety is always a priority.
“We want to remind business owners that it is their responsibility to comply with all requirements of the Fire Code, including verifying that life safety system installers are qualified and certified,” Henke said.
Soure: Calgary Herald
November 28, 2019
Article By: Kevin Martin
Don't wait until it's too late. Be proactive. Think ahead. Be safe.