TORONTO - Fires Raise Concerns about Hydro Equipment : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Jun 21, 14:36 EDT Fires Raise Concerns about Hydro Equipment By Josh Rubin Staff Reporter

A series of major power outages has prompted Toronto Hydro to investigate whether the incidents are connected.

Vice-president Blair Peberdy defended the company's performance, but admitted the outages are a concern.

''Our reliability is very high, but in the last six months, there's been a spate of these. So far we haven't found anything in common, but we want to take a look and see whether there's a pattern,'' said Peberdy, who speculated wet weather during May and June might be partly to blame.

''Considering the amount of rain we've had, there could be a problem with water,'' said Peberdy. In May, downtown Toronto got 123 millimetres of rain, almost twice the usual amount. Already in June, we've had more than 110 millimetres, compared with a June average of 68.9 millimetres.

Wednesday morning, a fire in a hydro vault shut down power in much of the downtown financial area, snarling traffic and bringing work at several office towers to a halt.

In January, another fire in a hydro vault caused the evacuation of more than 100 patients from the Hospital for Sick Children.

A month later, the Albion Centre shopping mall in northwest Toronto was without power for three hours after a fire at a hydro pole.

Last year, there were three Toronto Hydro vault fires leading to power outages, all of them within the pre-amalgamation city of Toronto.

Peberdy said the company's $100 million per year capital and maintenance budget is enough to keep the infrastructure in good shape.

''We're spending enough on it now,'' he said.

But if enough money's getting spent on equipment, not enough's getting spent on people, says Bruno Silano, head of CUPE Local 1, which represents Toronto Hydro workers.

''Even if the budget's the same, there aren't enough people to do the work,'' he said.

Silano estimated that 900 of Toronto Hydro's 1,500 employees now work in the old city of Toronto. In the early 1990s, when Toronto Hydro was responsible only for the pre-amalgamation City of Toronto, he said there were 1,400 employees.

-- (, June 22, 2000


Friday, Jun. 23, 2000

June 21, 2000 Underground hydro fire in Toronto knocks out power, sends bank workers home

TORONTO (CP) -- Employees of two banks were sent home this morning after a fire in an underground hydro station knocked out power in part of the city's financial district.

Emergency crews spent hours cleaning up after the 5:30 a.m. fire sent smoke pouring out of an underground hydro vault directly in front of the Royal Bank's head office in Toronto, in the city's downtown core.

The power outage closed the Royal Bank and neighbouring Scotiabank buildings. The fire put out traffic lights in the area, forced street cars to be re-routed and briefly closed a subway station. No one was injured in the fire.

It was not known when hydro would be restored to the area. Hydro officials were to assess the damage once water was pumped out of the vault. More than 10 emergency vehicles and metres of yellow police tape blocking off subway exits and roads greeted commuters arriving for work.

-- Martin Thompson (, June 22, 2000.

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