Vancouver metal thieves steal equipment vital to fighting highrise blazes
Vancouver police are concerned that metal thieves in the city have created a new and potentially deadly safety hazard by stealing key fire suppression equipment.
Sgt. Aaron Roed says more than 60 standpipe connections attached to the outer walls of highrise buildings in the city have been stolen recently.
Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services says standpipes include the Y-shaped brass or metal connections used to feed water into a building and up to higher floors during a fire.
Without them, police say firefighters can’t properly suppress a highrise blaze, although firefighter Matthew Trudeau says there are other methods to get water on a tower fire.
Investigators believe there have been additional thefts that may not have been noticed or reported to authorities, and Roed urges apartment dwellers, managers and owners to be vigilant.
Trudeau says loss of the connections can compromise a building’s emergency water supply, putting crews at risk and he hopes the thefts – which have become more frequent over the last month – are occurring only because thieves don’t know what they are stealing.
“I’m just trying to err on the side of caution (and say) they don’t know what it is, and hopefully this discontinues soon. But it’s been pretty frustrating,” Trudeau told a Vancouver news conference on Thursday.
The older brass connections and newer cast aluminum versions weigh about seven kilograms and would fetch about $15 dollars at a scrapyard, he says.
Trudeau estimates it would take as long as a week or more to replace some fittings, which thieves can loosen with battery operated grinders and then use wrenches to pull from the wall.
Depending on the complexity of the fitting, repairs can mount into the thousands of dollars for replacement and flushing of the system, and Trudeau said building owners are responsible for all those costs.