By Frank Kurz

Vancouver – As if the Summer hasn't been hot enough for the embattled President of Active Fire and Safety Services Ltd., Harjit Sangha, the Fall is shaping up to be "flaming". A past issue of SUPRESS! (ASTTBC's Fire Protection Newsletter) found by a loyal reader reveals more disturbing information about a corporate culture that has obviously undergone little in the way of change in seven (7) years. What we revealed in this story was all about lack of proper supervision, leadership, training and unprofessional conduct, but we'll let you be the judge on what we've uncovered here!

From ASTTBC's SUPPRESS! - February 2004 (the actual PRB Hearing was held in the Fall of 2003):


The charge against Harjit Sangha was that he demonstrated incompetence, negligence and/or unprofessional conduct in allowing fire extinguishers to be removed from a residential condominium complex, contrary to articles 1, 2, 4 and 7 of the Code of Ethics.


Mr. Sangha owns a fire protection company, Active Fire and Safety Services.  As a certified RFPT, he supervises Trainees in the practice.  While under Mr. Sangha’s supervision, a Trainee removed fire extinguishers from the residential condominium complex for service, leaving the complex unprotected overnight.  The Disciplinary Committee found that the normal practice is for temporary extinguishers to be provided where the client’s extinguishers must be removed for servicing.


The Disciplinary Committee found Mr. Sangha guilty of the charges.  Effective October 2, 2003, he is suspended from eligibility as a "Trainer" for a period of one year. After this period, and prior to reinstatement as a "Trainer", Mr. Sangha must complete a paper for the Practice Review Board based on the guidelines issued by the Fire Protection Certification Board.

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The first question that sprang to mind after reading the above (at least for me) was:  Has anyone ever bothered to ask if Mr. Sangha has actually been reinstated as a Trainer? So I contacted John Shortreid (ASTTBC Registrar and Chief Officer of the Practice Review Board) and was told that not only has Mr. Sangha NOT been reinstated, as a consequence ASTTBC won't accept Mr. Sangha signing off in a technician's practice logbook.  For an employer not to be able to officially comment in one of their worker's logbooks is one thing, but to have to try and explain to your own employee why you can't share your knowledge and experience with them is quite another. It certainly wouldn't inspire much in the way of confidence.

The reader might also recall that in my July 30th, 2010 response to Martin Sennott (Solicitor for Active Fire and Safety), I had asked three questions:

Anyone reading this story (or any of the others to which links have been provided below) that can answer NO to any one of the above questions should consider what it really means to hold the designation of Registered Fire Protection Technician, or Professional Engineer.  Both these professions are governed by a Code of Ethics and Conduct that enshrines "Public Safety" in simple, uncompromising language; language which Mr. Sangha quite obviously doesn't understand because I've recently filed a complaint with ASTTBC for his breaching the same articles (1, 2, 4, and 7) of their Code of Ethics in two Fire Alarm Verifications he recently performed in Surrey.

Active Fire had also been involved in three bogus Verifications at a large condominium complex in Vancouver as far back as 2002 and owing to their unique position as the annual service provider, Active was able to successfully bury the fact that these crucial inspections were performed while the three (3) systems displayed a Ground Fault!  Furthermore the reports themselves were never submitted or formally accepted by the City of Vancouver's Electrical Inspection Branch!  Following an investigation by ASTTBC, the Active Fire technician that tagged off on the last annual inspection was the only one to be officially sanctioned by the Practice Review Board.  The real crime in all this is that the Strata paid for but has never received valid Verification documentation from this service agency.

By now, you might be asking:  What sanction did Harjit Sangha, the President of Active Fire, receive?  He got a letter from ASTTBC which expressed their disappointment and suggested he pay more attention to what his employees were doing, but because his name wasn't on any official correspondence (or other documentation relating to this project), no further action against him could be taken.  (The independent Verifier, Contec Fire & Safety's Costa Vlachias* also received a letter of concern from ASTTBC, but because the Verification Discipline was not something they oversaw at the time, no sanctions could be levied.)

Does anyone reading this imagine Mr. Sangha didn't know what was going on?  Can anyone familiar with this file even remotely believe that Harjit Sangha doesn't take an active role in the day-to-day management of his company (and of the technicians in his employ)?  The Active Fire website is replete with statements that says he does!  And what about the technicians in Mr. Sangha's employ?  Are they intimidated into toeing a company line that sets "profit" over "safety"?  Are there technicians in Mr. Sangha's employ that believe they can contravene the Practice Guidelines when their employer (and fellow RFPT) suggests (or is somehow able to justify that) it's okay to do so?

While Active Fire's website espouses “Life Safety is our number one priority”, the actions of several individual technicians in their employ (as well as that of the owner) continues to demonstrate the exact opposite.  Until it can be positively ascertained that ASTTBC's Practice Guidelines (and the various inspection standards applicable) are being followed TO THE LETTER, this is the LAST fire equipment service provider I would call to change something as simple as an exit light bulb (and for Mr. Sennott's benefit, this IS a personal opinion of the writer that happens to be shared by many like-minded professionals).

“If you are looking for a responsible fire protection contractor”, DON'T CALL Active Fire and Safety!

Note:  The preceding phrase (in green quotations) appears on Active’s website.  While we do not have official permission for its use (and it’s extremely doubtful we would ever receive it), we note that it is in the public domain and feel fair comment rules apply.

ASTTBC must find the means to audit the reports and the inhouse training of the technicians in Mr. Sangha's employ. Furthermore, Active Fire's ability to perform Verifications must be suspended until the technicians listed are able to demonstrate the competence required by the Standards and the integrity to fulfill their professional obligations to the community.

And all this segues nicely into a few more questions I have left to ask:

Where exactly IS the City of Vancouver in all of this?  What actions are they planning to take to ensure the safety of Vancouver's citizens (keep in mind many Lower Mainland jurisdictions accept Vancouver's List of Approved Verification Agencies)?  Who exactly is Vancouver's "City Electrician" and why has Arkady Tsisserev's replacement not been officially named?  Who is responding to concerns of inspectors and industry stakeholders over shoddy verification practice and incomplete (often substandard) reports?

Is the public in danger?  You bet it is!

*Constantin (Costa) Vlachias of Contec Fire & Safety is a member of ASTTBC's Certification Board and is listed as a Director at Large with CFAA's (BC) Chapter.  He's also instructing the Fire Alarm Systems: Inspection and Testing course at BCIT.


More Reading:
June 2010 TECH-NEWS Extra!
September 2009 TECH-NEWS
June 2010 Editorial


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