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Two Okotoks fire protection employees plead guilty to fire code violations

Two employees of an Okotoks fire protection company have pleaded guilty to fire code violations, alleging their supervisors told them to do work they were not certified to undertake and threatened with their jobs if they did not perform the jobs.
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Two employees of Premium Fire Protection have pleaded guilty to fire code violations. (Wheel file photo)
Two employees of an Okotoks fire protection company have pleaded guilty to fire code violations, alleging their supervisors told them to do work they were not certified to undertake and threatened with their jobs if they did not perform the jobs.

Premium Fire Protection was the subject of a seven-month investigation by the City of Calgary. As a result, 65 charges were laid, including against Premium Fire Protection Services owner Kurt Bertrand of High River, a number of the company’s employees and Calgary businesses where Premium Fire Protection did work.

On Thursday, two former Premium Fire Protection Services employees admitted in Calgary Court to performing work they weren’t certified to do. Both said their supervisors required them to do work they were not trained to do and made it clear they would lose their job if they did not.

Dustin Kurz, of Okotoks, pleaded guilty to testing and doing maintenance on fire extinguishers and kitchen suppression units, which he was not certified to work on.

Kurz has a journeyman fitter certificate, allowing him to work as a sprinkler fitter.

Clinton Maton, who now lives in Saskatchewan, pleaded guilty to doing testing and maintenance on a fire alarm system and voice communication systems, which he did not have certification to do.

The uncertified work done by Kurz and Maton was at a Calgary car dealership, pharmacy, movie theatre and a restaurant.

Maton started working for Premium Fire Protection in Sept. 2017 and quit in Sept. 2019. He was certified to work on fire suppression systems, but said the general manager of the company pressured him into doing other work that he was not certified to perform.

In the agreed statement of facts presented in court and Maton’s statement to the City of Calgary and Calgary Fire Department, Maton and Kurz said Premium Fire Protection employees were told they would be fired or would be forced to quit if they did not do work they weren’t certified for.

“A lot of the time, most of the techs (myself included) did fear for our jobs if we didn’t do as we were told,” Maton wrote. “The fear of not being able to provide for yourself or your family is a very strong motivation to not want to lose your job.”

He added, the company regularly put profit over safety.

“In my personal opinion and I’m sure lots of others are in the same mindset, the company has always put money in front of doing the job right,” Maton wrote in his statement to investigators. “Basically the mentality there is do it fast and do lots, even if that means you’re not doing it right.”

Kurz's agreed statement of facts, revealed he had expressed concerns to Premium Fire Protection General Manager Steve Butler and was told “if I don’t like it, f**** off and work somewhere else.”

 




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