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Letter: Writer sees a double standard

The editor: “Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands.

The editor:

“Sometimes if you want to see a change for the better, you have to take things into your own hands.” Clint Eastwood

I would like to respond to and quote from an article in the Estevan Mercury’s website on May 4, titled Fire Safety Measures Have To Be Maintained Even During Pandemic, which involved an interview with Fire Chief  Dale Feser. 

The article stated that another problem posing a threat to the public's safety that has recently occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic became obvious when firefighters were responding to fire alarms going off in apartment or condominium complexes.

“We noted that there are a lot of fire-rated separation doors that were propped open, the emergency exit stairwells,” said Feser.

The building operators explained that they took that measure because of the pandemic to limit the number of people touching door handles and surfaces.

“We do sympathize with that, however, these fire-rated separating doors are there for a reason, for the safety of the occupants. So in the event of an emergency, it prevents smoke and flame from migrating into the exit stairwells. That way the occupants of the building can safely exit the building,” said Feser.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, these doors must remain closed at all times for the safety of the occupants.

Feser suggested that people can either install electromagnetic hold-open devices right into fire-alarm panel systems or wrap up the cleaning process on the surfaces that are being touched. But the fire safety measures should be followed at all times.

I would like to know why this would apply to local businesses, but not to city-owned facilities?  The Orpheum Theatre has three fire-rated doors between the two projector booths on the second floor. The public never goes onto this floor. Occasionally we have to transport a heavy and expensive piece of equipment between the two projector booths.

During a fire inspection of the Orpheum Theatre in 2013 by then-Deputy Fire Chief Dale Feser (which was only the third fire inspection in 15 years), we asked Feser if we could keep the door stops on the bottoms of these doors for the transportation of this equipment. The response was that, as long as the public doesn’t use the second floor, there should be no problem with it as long as it’s just used when moving equipment.  

After this fire inspection, Feser then gave us written notice to remove these door stops as the only allowable hold open devices are electromagnetic in nature, which must be connected to the building’s fire alarm system. This was the opposite of what we were initially informed. Not only were we upset with this contradictory direction, but now we need three people to move our equipment when we should just need two people. 

We had a reasonable request.  We did though as we were told as per the fire regulations.  However, upon checking Affinity Place over the last seven years, the doors in the changing rooms, janitor rooms, Bruins office etc., still, to this day, have these door stops on. I have documented proof of these door stops, the use of pails and wooden blocks being used to prop the doors open. 

Some of these doors don’t even have automatic door closers on them. We brought this up to Feser in 2013 and were told that he has made the city aware of it. If he has made the city aware of this, why aren’t the fire regulations being enforced? Why should city buildings have different rules – especially ones that involve the safety of the general public? How would you react if there was a fire when your children were playing hockey at Affinity Place, and you then find out after that the city was knowingly negligent with their safety?

The city may wonder why we have to go to court over our differences, but this is just one example of many over the years of the Orpheum Theatre being told one thing in person and another in writing. I await the opportunity to prove more discrepancies in our next court date.

"You ain't heard nothin' yet!"  The Jazz Singer, 1927


Alan Dougherty


Co-owner of the Orpheum Theatre