May 29, 2023
Recent provincial fires have created a facility operations matter that building management may need to consider when designing an evacuation centre. Smoke from recent wildfires in Alberta have stretched across the country, creating hazy skies in several provinces. A real-time tracking map created by AirNow Fire and Smoke Map, which monitors wildfires and air quality in North America, shows the extent of the reach of smoke from these blazes. Evacuation centres set up to assist during the emergency were at a safe distance but were still under the threat of smoke related health issues. Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of gases, particles, and water vapour and contains ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter (PM2.5). These pollutants can harm your health, with PM2.5 posing the greatest risk. There is no evidence of a safe level of exposure for most of these pollutants. This means that smoke can impact health even at very low levels. Air quality may be decreased even if evacuees cannot see or smell smoke [More]. Management at some Alberta evacuation centres scrambled to source industrial “smoke eater” equipment. A smoke eater is a device that removes smoke and odours from a room.
Types of Smoke Eater Technologies
Smoke Eater Equipment Options
Recreation facilities are often key to a community’s evacuation plan. Proactive facility managers should be prepared to table information that includes smoke related health issues that should be considered as part of the facilities preparedness plans. Recommending that this type of equipment be installed at the time of construction can be made. Alternatively, knowing where rental equipment can be sourced should form part of the emergency planning documents.
Comments and/or Questions may be directed to Terry Piche, CRFP, CIT and Director, Training, Research and Development, Ontario Recreation Facilities Association
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