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Ammonia sensor alarm brings Colwood firefighters to Juan de Fuca arena

Low ammonia sensor alarm tripped during maintenance work: acting chief
Colwood Fire Rescue responded to an ammonia alarm at the Juan de Fuca Arena on July 28. (Google Maps)

Colwood Fire Rescue responded to an ammonia alarm they described as completely routine, at the Juan de Fuca Arena at West Shore Parks and Recreation late Wednesday night.

Prior to the crew’s arrival to the recreation centre at 11:30 p.m., a low-ammonia sensor alarm was tripped during regular maintenance of the facility’s compressor, said acting Colwood Fire Chief Greg Chow. The ice rink’s compressor stores the corrosive and poisonous substance used to absorb heat from the surface of the rink.

READ ALSO: Two treated in ammonia leak aboard ship in Alberni harbour

The alarm was set off because of a lack of timeliness while maintaining their compressor, which stored a standard, but detectable quantity of ammonia, Chow said.

“There was a slight delay getting the system from one place to the next,” he added. “There was not ever a hazard to the public (or an) actual leak itself,” he said, noting that maintenance involving ammonia at West Shore recreation facilities is conducted off-hours.

“People are on heightened awareness,” Chow said, referring to 2018’s ammonia leak at a community ice rink in Fernie. The incident killed three people and was found to potentially be the result of a cooling system in need of replacement as early as 2010.

READ ALSO: Aging cooling system behind B.C. fatal ammonia leak needed replacing in 2010: report

“That’s exactly why (maintenance) protocols and procedures were put in place,” Chow said. Those include the detectors which initially tripped the sensor alarm, Chow said, along with the fire department’s routine response.

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