The head of Barrie Fire says preservation of life is the number one priority, even when it means losing pieces of history.
The destruction of a significant portion of Notre Dame in Paris is being mourned not only for the damage of the historic structure itself, but also the loss of innumerably significant relics and artifacts. While there is no comparing the loss this represents, it would be a tragedy were Barrie or Simcoe County to lose any of the region’s historic or culturally significant structures to fire.
If the worst were to happen however, Barrie Fire Chief Cory Mainprize says as much of history would be preserved as possible, but not at the cost of human lives. “Certainly if we are able to remove historical or treasured possessions from a building, that would a secondary operation.” says Mainprize “our tactical priorities always remain the same: life safety and building preservation are paramount over everything.”
Mainprize recalls a few times where the city’s fire service was called out to a building of historic significance, saying it was a secondary priority, but some of his firefighters were able to clear out artifacts as others fought flames. “We’ve had in the past, nothing as significant as what took place yesterday, but we’ve had some fires in historical and/or places of worship, and we’ve removed artifacts and historical pieces from the building during some salvage operations, to prevent them from not only fire damage, but water damage during the fire operations.”
As for the structures themselves, due to outdated building materials and contents that are generally aged and tinder-dry, Chief Mainprize says that’s all the more reason to make sure and modernize a bit. “Traditional construction highlights the importance for working fire protection systems: smoke alarms, fire alarms. Early notification is the key to providing a timely response.”