Families continue call for bill to improve firefighter safety 10 years after fatal Listowel fire
LISTOWEL -- The families of two firefighters killed in a fire in Listowel 10 years ago want to see a bill in place to help improve firefighter safety.
Ken Rea and Ray Walter were killed at a fire at a dollar store in Listowel on March 17, 2011.
Ken's wife, Louise Rea, said she remembers it like it was yesterday.
"I called him and he was at the scene and he said he had to go, but I love you and that was the last I heard from him," Louise said. "You can't sleep without remembering."
Rosemary Walter, Ray's mother, said she thinks of him every day.
"He's always there," she said.
"The loss for me was more losing my entire life that was laid out in front of me, this happy life I was supposed to have," Ray's wife, Holly Walter, said.
Ken and Ray died when the roof of the building collapsed on top of them.
"That fire changed dramatically on us, which hardly gave us any time to react," said Chief Edward Smith with the North Perth Fire Department.
At the time of the fire, crews were unaware the roof was made of lightweight construction material that can become volatile during a blaze.
MPP Randy Pettapiece introduce the Rea and Walter Act after the fire, with a goal of identifying buildings with lightweight construction materials.
"It was there to help identify these types of buildings, remind the firefighters they have to look at this differently," Smith said.
But years later, the bill still isn't law.
"It's just a real disappointment that it still hasn't been passed," Holly said. "I don't think people realize how much impact it could have."
In an emailed statement to CTV Kitchener, Pettapiece said he's been encouraged by the support from firefighters and municipalities for the bill.
"We have also received strong support from MPPs of all parties. Unfortunately, private members’ bills—even good ones with broad support—generally take time. We all want to get this done," his email said in part. "In recent weeks, I have been working with MPPs and various officials. We are making progress, and the work will continue. I anticipate I will have more details to share very soon, likely in the next few weeks."
Smith wants to see the bill become a reality soon.
"My hope is that they don't wait too long to end up having another tragedy," he said.