It sounds like a minor incident, but a hazmat team was called to a fire at the Canadian Bank Note Company in Ottawa Friday, June 25,
An investigation is underway after a fire at the Canadian Bank Note on Richmond Road early Saturday morning.
At 2:40 a.m., Ottawa fire received a call for alarms at 145 Richmond Rd., the location of the security printing company. Security on
site also called to report black smoke visible on the second floor of the building.
Crews responded, and declared a working fire.
The room involved was approximately 100 feet by 100 feet, with several presses and chemicals. Because of the variety of chemicals, a
hazardous materials team was sent as a precaution.
Ottawa police, paramedics, Enbridge and Ottawa Hydro also attended.
There were no reported civilian or firefighter injuries, and the fire was under control by about 4:30 a.m.
The cause of the fire is not known. There was no damage estimate provided.
I wondered if there were fires at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing and did a quick web search. The best I could find was this
item on Pinterest, but I couldn't figure out the source. If anyone has information on this or other such incidents at the B.E.P., let
us know. -Editor
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Treasury Department. Fire, February 21, 1916, from spontaneous combustion. Harris &Ewing Less 1916
Feb, Printing Treasury, Fire Bureau
Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Treasury Department. Fire, February 21, 1916, from spontaneous combustion.
(1916, Feb. 21) Fire, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Treasury Department - Washington, D.C.
E-Sylum regular Robert Leuver served as the head of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and later as the Executive Director of
the American Numismatic Association. So I checked with him on the topic. -Editor
Bob Leuver writes:
There were several fires at the BEP, which I recall. Most were put out quickly, without loss of life or property. However there was
one fire in the Annex (1984-1987), in a stamp-printing unit of four Cotrell presses. It happened in the middle of the night and the
pressmen stated they were present. The fire started in a press, I believe, raced along the floor and climbed the walls and destroyed the
ceiling fire-depression equipment. No pressmen were injured. However two Cotrell presses were totally destroyed. The machinists worked
magic and restored the other two press rather quickly, sufficient in time to meet the minimal requirement of the first day of issue of
the Fire Pump stamp--would you believe?
A better story was the 1978 Annex situation, where an early arrival chemist realized a work area was contaminated by carbon monoxide.
The Washington, D.C., hazmat team were able to enter the room, turn off the faulty equipment and open several windows on an upper floor
to air out the room. A group of firemen went to the roof. A rookie fireman plodded over to the wall one floor above the contaminated
room. A fire captain sprang forward and dragged the offender back with a few choice words, the expurgated version of which, "You
could have died, if you looked over that wall!"
A postscript to the carbon monoxide situation was that it took more than a year to purchase the appropriate equipment to monitor
carbon monoxide. So, 2 canaries were purchased. By then, I was at the BEP, puzzled when I saw the canaries. Well, one day the senior
chemist arrived and saw one canary was apparently dead on the floor of the cage. With care the chemist entered the room. An autopsy by
another chemist revealed the canary died of natural causes. (I remember the professionals involved, but I forget their names. Both fine
people and excellent and respected professionals.)
To read the complete article, see:
Hazmat team involved in
three-alarm fire at Canadian Bank Note
Wayne Homren, Editor
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