Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jul 2008
Source: Niagara This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Paul Forsyth
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Two Niagara residents have been singled out by the Ontario Fire 
Marshal for their efforts to stamp out illegal marijuana growing 
operations in Niagara, which officials say pose a potentially deadly threat.

Joe Adams of St. Catharines and Leo Mercier of Niagara Falls were 
both presented with a Fire Safety Advocate Award from Fire Marshal 
Patrick Burke for their grow-op work. Burke, former fire chief for 
Niagara Falls, made fighting grow-ops a high priority in his time as 
fire chief.

Adams is a senior inspector with the Technical Standards and Safety 
Authority (TSSA). He has been instrumental in helping the Niagara 
Falls Fire Department to close down marijuana grow operations, and 
has spent long hours in Provincial Offences Court as an expert 
witness in numerous trials held in Niagara Falls since 2005, the Fire 
Marshal's office said.

As a result of his extensive technical knowledge, Adams' testimony in 
court, on at least a dozen of occasions has been used to support 
charges relating to the alteration of heating and ventilation systems 
in the homes and buildings where marijuana grow operations have been 
discovered, the Fire Marshal said.

Illegal grow-ops often bypass hydro conduits because of the large 
amount of hydro the grow-up lights require, and can involve 
ham-handed wiring and alteration of furnace vents. Those alterations 
pose a dire threat of fire and electrocution, officials say.

Adams has helped train Niagara firefighters and Niagara Regional 
Police on identifying and reducing those shock and fire hazards.

"Joe has been a driving force behind the eradication of marijuana 
grow operations in the Niagara region," said Burke. "His professional 
opinion and evidence offered in court has helped the Niagara Falls 
fire department spend less time in long and complicated trials."

Mercier is an inspector with the Electrical Safety Authority. He has 
been deemed an expert witness on the electrical hazards associated 
with marijuana grow operations. Since 2005, he has provided testimony 
in Provincial Offences Court to support charges related to electrical 
wiring in grow-ops.

He also helps train firefighters and city workers to reduce the risks 
associated with grow-ops for emergency officials and the public.

"Leo's expert testimony in court has certainly made a difference in 
the outcome of trials involving marihuana grow operations," said 
Burke. "His contributions will continue to have a significant impact 
on fire safety in the Niagara region."

Fire departments throughout the province nominated individuals and 
organizations for this year's awards; 17 recipients were selected. 
Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Rick 
Bartolucci and Burke presented the awards June 25 in Toronto.
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