Firefighter concerns spark lawsuit

Stéphane Noël is a firefighter and president of the Gatineau Firefighters' Association. When the firefighters had trouble dousing a blaze that destroyed a 19th-century church in Aylmer five months ago, Noël spoke out. A part of the problem was inadequate water pressure from the city's older pipes.

The blaze occurred on June 11 when flames wrecked Saint Paul's Roman Catholic Church. This stone-built church is a historic landmark 120 years-old. The statement that was made alluded that the firefighters could not do their jobs properly because there just wasn't enough water.

This has become a political issue and the Mayor of Gatineau, Marc Bureau said that he spoke to the fire chief and that reports show there was enough water pressure available to the do the job. There is contract negotiations going on between the firefighters union and the city which might be affecting opinions.

Ottawa Fire Services which were called into to assist the Gatineau firefighters could not confirm that there was a lack of adequate pressure.

The insurance company that holds the policy under Interwest Church Mutual Insurance Company has sent legal notice to the City of Gatineau advising that they are considering a lawsuit. The insurance company has paid of $3.5 million in claims from the fire. At this time the fire has been deemed an arson. No suspects have been arrested.