Fire Chief Issues Fire Code Directive About Crowding at YYZ

Toronto Pearson Airport YYZ
Toronto Pearson Airport

The chaos at Canada’s busiest airport isn’t just earning the ire of pax and the attention of media around the world.

The overcrowding has gotten on the radar of the GTAA's Fire Chief.

The TorontoSun reports that a directive issued by Fire Chief Todd Aitken came into effect 01JUL. It warns airlines about failing to follow the airport’s “Hold Procedure” for arriving aircraft that regulates traffic in the Arrivals halls at YYZ.

The article - which was re-published on the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs’ web site on 03JUL - shares a copy of the directive.

The Fire Chief's directive appears to directly call out the federal government for delays in processing arriving pax.

“Toronto Pearson International Airport (Toronto Pearson) is experiencing significant disruptions to its operations which is attributable, in part, to a reduction in throughput capacity in processing arriving international passengers, as a result of government-mandated processes and agency staffing,” the fire chief wrote.

Then it switches blame to airlines. “Passenger congestion in the Arrival Transfer level of Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 continues to exceed acceptable levels at certain times, which is due in part to some air carriers not following the Hold Procedure that is in effect for the purpose of maintaining safety in the terminal buildings,” the directive goes on to say.

“Incidents where an airline fails to comply with such an instruction and self-releases its passengers into the passenger terminal can lead to the CBSA Primary Inspection Line being overwhelmed with passengers, with queues backing up onto the Arrivals Transfer level. The ensuing congestion creates safety risks, disrupts other operations in the terminal and on the ramp and worsens the passenger experience,” it continues.

The Fire Code Directive lists the risks the Fire Chief sees at the airport, including: creation of a hazard; compromising exit capacity; and congestion which would prevent the timely movement of persons to a safe place in an emergency.

“The Fire Chief Order is to instruct air carriers to comply with the Hold Procedure for flights… which is critical to the airport’s safe operation and is necessary to ensure compliance with the National Fire Code,” the directive reads.

Although it isn’t clear what consequences airlines may suffer for failing to follow the Fire Chief’s directive, the directive highlights serious concerns - beyond inconvenienced pax - about crowding at Pearson. And it's one more organization weighing in on ongoing problems in air travel.

Note: This article was updated on 07JUL. The earlier version identified Todd Aitken as Toronto's Fire Chief. He is the fire chief of the GTAA.

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