Queens County departments considering charging R.J. MacIsaac for fire calls onboard recycled ships

Published on March 23, 2017

One of the large fires on board the former HMCS Protecteur which brought out four local volunteer fire departments to fight the blaze. Officials are now considering making the boat recycling company pay for fire calls after four fires in less than a year.

LIVERPOOL - After four fires aboard ships being recycled at the Port Mersey Commercial Park, local fire departments are now considering charging the company for the cost of fighting them. 

The most recent fire broke out this week on the Algonquin, which is just starting to be cut down to be recycled.

It followed close on the heels of a spectacular fire on the former Protecteur, which caused large plumes of thick black smoke and flames to be seen for miles around. Four departments battled that blaze.

Raymond Fiske is the councillor in charge of fire services for the Region of Queens Municipality.

“It’s very costly to keep going down there,” he says.

“This is the fourth one, and they have to use a special foam on it from the trucks.”

The Class A foam required to fight these fires costs $150 per pail. The amount required depends on the severity of the blaze.

Fiske says local fire departments will be discussing charging R.J. MacIsaac for future fire calls because of the amount of resources they take up.

“The fire departments, they go down there all the time, and it’s very costly.”

Queens Region Mayor David Dagley says when there are a number of calls to one location for a repeated issue, it causes additional effort to fire departments.

“It does cause additional cost through the mutual aid, when one fire department responds to a call,” he said. “If it’s a significant call, it will require back-up from another fire department.”

That department could require back-up as well, if it has to respond to the fire, too.

“It has a domino effect of being called into and responding,” Dagley said, which ups the cost

Dagley says the site of the recycled ships – the former Bowater Mersey Paper Mill – used to have its own fire department on site.

“Very seldom were fires incurred through a vigilant fire watch process that the mill had in place, so I would assume that Port Mersey and all of its tenants would be looking at that issue in the goal of reducing fire calls.”

The former Protecteur has been completely demolished. Work has just started on the Algonquin, and there is a third ship– the Iroquois – that is tied up, waiting to be dismantled.

“There’s always a bit of residue that does remain and it’s a concern and it’s one that I would expect companies would deal with when dismantling a vessel.”

The Protecteur arrived in Liverpool in April. It was the first in a three-ship, $50 million contract procured by R.J. MacIsaac to dismantle the former navy vessels in Liverpool.

The Advance has tried to contact R.J. MacIsaac for comment, but has not received a response.