Your component executive and BCGEU Occupational Health & Safety representatives continue to investigate the serious fire started by an inmate in the segregation unit at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre (FRCC) on January 20. Nineteen Correctional Officers required medical attention for smoke inhalation, burning eyes and lung discomfort.
We have spoken to many of our members involved in the incident and we continue to have concerns around the current fire response policy. Our union has questions concerning the fire suppression system and the fire contingency plan. We are also investigating the role of the local fire department. Had firefighters attended the scene they would have been able to provide first aid to officers.
In 2001 the Corrections Branch removed all Scott Air Packs (breathing apparatus tanks) from provincial jails. Since then, Correctional Officers were no longer required to enter an unsafe area of the building in the event of fire or smoke. The fire department is required to attend and enter the affected area. Officers are to go the closest evacuation door.
We will be following up with FRCC management and OHS committee to seek clear understanding on the current policy. The joint OHS local committee has done a preliminary investigation. The BCGEU will be following through with an investigation and we will continue to work with WorkSafeBC.
In the event of any future prison fires, under no circumstances can members be ordered to work in an unsafe area. Your right to a safe workplace is covered by regulations. You cannot be punished for refusing unsafe work. You should seek immediate medical attention if affected by the effects of a fire and/or smoke inhalation. If you are ever involved in a workplace fire or any other potential hazardous exposure, register with the WorkSafeBC Exposure Registry program. Here is the link: http://www.worksafebc.com/forms/assets/PDF/41M1.pdf
The BCGEU has requested a meeting with Mike Morris, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to discuss ongoing issues in Adult Custody. We are particularly concerned with the increasing violence in our provincial prisons.
We will keep members updated as more information becomes available. If you require any further information or want to address your concerns, please contact your component or local chair. You can email the OHS department at BCGEU at OHS@bcgeu.ca
Do you like this post?