Bay Roberts firefighters save jobs and building

By Olivia Bradbury / Local Journalism Reporter

In the early hours of May 31, a passerby on the way to work spotted smoke coming out of the eaves of the Dwyer Building, which is located on the main road in Bay Roberts and houses three businesses: Ches’s Fish & Chips, the Academy of Mathematics & English, and PEKA Sales & Services. The Bay Roberts Volunteer Fire Department was called at 2:18 a.m., and firefighters soon arrived on the scene.

Firefighters saw smoke and flames coming from the back of the building, specifically from the middle unit, which houses the Academy of Mathematics and English.
“They called for an inch and three-quarter attack line,” said Justin Parsons, a volunteer firefighter who also happens to be the Director of Protective Services with the Town of Bay Roberts, describing the equipment and actions taken by the firefighters. “The line was stretched from the engine into the space. The crew then worked to knock down the flame. They put Class A foam on the line which helps—you know, Class A foam, there’s a little bit of cost to it—but it helps the fire from rekindling and helps the water stay on the material more.”

After the firefighters confirmed the floor was safe, they were able to enter the building and push into the middle unit. At the same time, the ventilation crew used the ladder truck to get onto the roof and, using chainsaws, were able to ventilate the space and let out the smoke and superheated gases to improve the visibility for the firefighters inside.

The back of the middle unit had the heaviest concentration of fire.

“Our crew was able to contain the damage, the fire, to the middle unit,” said Parsons. “This is mainly due to building construction — fire-resistant materials in between the walls, in between the units… The crew we had, they’re well-trained, they went to work right away, they knew exactly what to do, and it was tic-tac-toe, really. We managed to do it with one engine committed to the fire. It was a bang-up job.”

The Academy of Mathematics and English suffered a considerable amount of damage, and as a result is currently closed. Ches’s Fish & Chips and PEKA Sales & Services are also closed for the time being, but suffered minimal damages. Parsons noted there is smoke damage to deal with, and quite a bit of water damage in the basement.

Parsons said while the building may look like it’s burnt out the result was actually a great success for the fire department. Not only did the firefighters save the insurers a lot of money by containing the fire, they also saved important documents. The quick response may even have saved some people’s livelihoods.

“A fire such as this not only affects one family, it affects several,” said Parsons, “because you’ve got employees. Like how many people worked at Ches’s that are now out of work? How many people worked at the mathematics building or the PEKA building? So, by having a fire like this with quick suppression, hopefully it will be a quick repair time and quick back to work time. So then, we’re not losing those 10 or so jobs out of our community. That’s why we’re here… That’s the level of training we train to.”

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