Significant safety failings uncovered
The fire department boat that capsized during a rescue effort in Montreal, killing one firefighter, was not designed to be in that part of the St. Lawrence River, according to Quebec's workplace health and safety board.
The report into the incident on October 17, 2021, was made public today, highlighting three principal factors that led to the death of firefighter Pierre Lacroix. Lacroix, a married father of two, died after becoming trapped beneath the rescue boat while coming to the aid of two boaters in distress.
The workplace safety board found that the rapids where the firefighters intervened exceeded the rescue boat's capacities. The boat, it said, capsized due to a combination of the distribution of weight of the firefighters, large waves that engulfed the boat and its positioning in the trough of a wave during the approach, according to The Canadian Press.
The board’s investigators also found the crew aboard the rescue craft and responders at a riverside command post lacked adequate training, which led to them exposing firefighters to the danger of drowning in an unmarked area of the rapids.
The body of Lacroix was found after a 12-hour search. He had 30 years of experience in the field and was due to retire next year. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Montreal fire chief Richard Liebmann said Lacroix had made the “ultimate sacrifice” in service of others.
A coroner's inquiry into Lacroix's death will begin in late November.