On Wednesday evening an electrical short caused a fire in a detached garage at 3580 College Street in Sherbrooke. According to Yassine el Hajjami, a senior lieutenant in the department, the fact that the fire was in a garage made it a high-risk situation and resulted in a second alarm call and a response of more than 20 firefighters on the scene. “When we received the information from the dispatcher, there was already visible smoke and flame,” el Hajjami said explaining that although no firefighters were injured in the intervention, a 17-year-old and his father were bother transported to the hospital as a preventative measure out of concern over smoke inhalation
“They tried to get as much out as they could out of their garage,” the firefighter said, estimating the damage to be in the range of $65,000.
A scheduling change
As of Monday Sherbrooke’s firefighters will be changing their shift structure for a period of eight weeks to help fight COVID-19 while they fight fires. “We want less movement of personnel in and out,” said Simon Gilbert, President of the Sherbrooke firefighters’ union. “Normally our schedule is 10 hours in the day and 14 hours at night, so one team will come in to work the day, then go home and another team will take over for the night. There is a lot of crossover and lots of possibility for community contamination.” In place of this model, Gilbert said that the Sherbrooke department is following the lead of those in other major Quebec cities of shifting to longer on-call periods. “Monday morning I will go in to work and I will work all day Monday through to Tuesday morning. Tuesday I will get up at the same station and work through another whole day,” he said. “I will do my entire 48 hour work week in two days, then I will go home and another team. The goal, according to the union president, is to reduce contact between teams in addition to the sanitation method already in place in the station so as to maintain service to the population. “If we do not take action and a large number of firefighters get sick, the service will be much less effective,” Gilbert said.