Fire marshal closes the Kamotiq Inn

Restaurant deemed a threat to public safety



Fearing the Kamotiq Inn is a fire, health and safety hazard, Nunavut’s fire marshal shut the restaurant’s doors last week.

The red, igloo-shaped restaurant had a long list of electrical, fire and health violations — and a long history of ignoring them.

“There was a total of 58 violations in that little place,” Nunavut fire marshal Gerald Pickett said. “That’s an extremely large amount.”

The restaurant, owned by Marcel Mahé, has been serving up pizza and burgers in Iqaluit for close to 20 years. Nunatsiaq News was unable to reach the owner for comment.

Because the violations pose a threat to public safety, the fire marshal ordered the Kamotiq Inn to close down on April 13.

The restaurant isn’t allowed to open again until its owner fixes all or most of the problems.

That means there’s a lot of repairs in store for the Kamotiq Inn.

Fire violations

When Pickett inspected the restaurant on March 21, the fire marshal discovered a host of fire hazards.

The restaurant’s kitchen, for example, doesn’t have the special fire extinguishers needed to put out fires involving vegetable or animal oils and fats.

The ventilation systems near the cooking appliances are outdated and don’t meet the current requirements. A whole new exhaust and ventilation system must be installed, Pickett said.

He also discovered a build-up of grease on the kitchen’s floor, walls and ceiling. Pickett ordered the restaurant owner to replace all wood surfaces that are covered with cooking oil and grease.

A fire-safety plan is nowhere to be seen in the restaurant — despite national fire regulations that require all public buildings to post information outlining the building’s fire exits.

There’s no emergency lighting in the washrooms, while the lighting in the main dining area that leads to the front door is inadequate, Pickett said.

His inspection also turned up a fire hazard in the boiler room. In particular, the door to the room isn’t up to par and Pickett is requesting the Kamotiq Inn put up a stronger fire-resistant door.

Pickett also uncovered fire hazards around the outside of the restaurant. The 250-gallon fuel tank, located on the side of the building, doesn’t have a vent or shut-off valve.

Empty boxes and wooden pallets have piled up outside, near the large sea container. According to national fire codes, combustible materials are not permitted to build up, since they may pose a fire hazard.

Boxes inside the rear exit are also a problem, Pickett said, because they could block people from getting out of the building quickly in case of a fire.

Picket’s inspection last month wasn’t the first to uncover fire and safety hazards at the Kamotiq Inn.

The problems actually go back to 1999. At that time, the Iqaluit fire department inspected the building and found a handful of fire hazards. It warned the restaurant to fix the problems.

Again in 2000, the fire department found deficiencies in the restaurant and even threatened the restaurant’s owners with a court order to do the necessary repairs.

Then Pickett inspected the building in late December, 2001 and noticed very few changes had been made.

“These people have a history of not complying with any of the last fire marshal’s orders,” Pickett said.

But, being so close to Christmas, he decided not to shut the place down at that time.

In the new year, with restaurant gearing up for the extra 1,000 people that would be in town for the Arctic Winter Games, Pickett decided it wasn’t the best time to close the Kamotiq Inn.

“I didn’t want to impose any harsh conditions or get them when the opportunity was there to make some dollars,” he said.

“In addition to that, the Toonoonik hotel had closed, which was an eating facility. And I really didn’t want to close another place with all these people in town.”

He officially ordered the restaurant to close on April 13.

Health concerns

On top of the 15 fire hazards, the Kamotiq also had 33 electrical violations, four boiler room violations, and six health violations.

Philip Reeve, the environmental health officer for the Baffin region, inspected the Kamotiq Inn on March 21.

He noted six health violations, including uncleanliness in the kitchen and the temperature of the coolers not being as cold as is required. In addition, the restaurant was storing some bulk food on the floor — a violation of public safety regulations that say food should be stored off the floor, on pallets or racks.

While the inspector noted these violations, the health department was not involved in the order to close the Kamotiq. Rather, Reeve asked the Kamotiq’s owner to improve the situation.

When he returned to inspect the building on April 4, the Kamotiq had complied with his request.

Making repairs

Since its April 13 closure, the Kamotiq Inn has been bustling with electricians and repair people.

Fire marshall Pickett said electricians were there on April 15 and 16 fixing many of the wiring problems.

“They’ve cleaned up the kitchen and repainted as well. They’re trying to comply, so I’m willing to work with them,” he said.

Once the major repair work is completed and the place undergoes another inspection, the Kamotiq Inn can open again to customers, Pickett said.

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