Occupy Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory, November 11, 2011 –
Vancouver Fire Chief John McKearney said after a site inspection Thursday that Occupy Vancouver is close to conforming to Wednesday's court directive to improve fire safety. VFRS officials visited the site again Friday afternoon to order certain tents to be moved six feet away from the art gallery building and to ensure tarps do not span multiple single-person tents.
Every day, Occupiers can be seen working hard to address what they feel is an ever-expanding list of orders and directives. The initial order included only five basic requirements; however, the court order allows the Fire Chief to add to the list at any time – an opportunity Occupy Vancouver says the Vancouver Fire Department has made a point of capitalizing on.
“Some of us have been trying to comply the Fire Chief’s new requirements are but we have not been able to find out what they are”, said Tom, an Occupier with the media committee. “None of the onsite Firefighters seem to know what those requirements are, and we’ve received no exhaustive official list from the fire department. Their lack of communication with us has seriously impeded our efforts. It’s no better than the claims they make about us not being communicative enough.”
Despite their confusion, Occupiers are continuing to respond to the new and changing demands, and are constructing new dome structures which they believe will surpass even the most stringent of fire safety standards.
“The domes we are constructing are far safer than single-person tents in that they maximize heat transfer between multiple occupants. Each dome will be covered with a flame-retardant tarp, and will have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers mounted on the inside,” said Eric Hamilton-Smith, a protester and member of the logistics committee. “In addition, the domes allow for a community-dwelling model which speaks to the nature of what we have created here,” said Hamilton-Smith.
"At Occupy Vancouver, what we've built is a real community that produces a plethora of social benefits and public goods, such as education, skills development, and political engagement."
Hamilton-Smith, who is completing his master's thesis in public policy at Simon Fraser, is working with a team of researchers to uncover the benefits Occupy Vancouver provides society. “If you look at the half-million the City wasted on October 15th due to riot-related paranoia, the benefits we’ve provided the city far exceeds that figure.”
Although the team has only just begun its research, initial projections of those benefits already exceed a million dollars. This projection includes the benefits from housing, food, clothing, medical care, a loaning library, education and skills development, socialization for marginalized people, and political engagement. “Many of those benefits are easily quantifiable by finding market substitutes and comparing the costs of those with the services offered at Occupy,” said Hamilton-Smith.
If you would like more information or would like to schedule an interview, please contact:
Occupy Vancouver Media Committee,