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London, Ont.’s flame train a reminder to sign up for emergency alerts


The city admits it is "begging" Londoners to sign up for emergency alerts.

The plea comes at the start of Emergency Preparedness Week, and just two weeks after a freight train engulfed in flames almost brought responders into a real-life emergency exercise.

On Monday, amidst a backdrop of emergency vehicles, London Police Service Chief Thai Truong backed the value of coordinated training and communication.

“Our job in leadership is to make sure infrastructure is in place,” he said. “That we have the right equipment and tools so that we are able to respond.”

The annual event serves as a reminder to the public to be ready for any unforeseen emergency, including explosions, hazardous material spills and major weather events.

“Plan your escape in a fire. Prepare for snowstorms, and make sure you have batteries in your emergency preparedness kit at home," said Deputy Fire Chief Matt Hepditch of the London Fire Department.

Members of London’s emergency preparedness team pose in front of London’s newest aerial firetruck at an event to kick off emergency prepared this week. May 6, 2024. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)

Hepditch joins other leaders in pleading with the public to sign up for Alert London. The service sends a text message should trouble arise.

“We are kind of begging and reminding you that if you’re not registered, you may not know," cautioned Paul Ladouceur, director of emergency management and security services for the City of London. "With the landlines dissipating over time, we really have to rely on people to register those cellular numbers."

The public emergency planning warning comes just weeks after a train rolled through London in flames.

The investigation into that fire, which alarmed thousands of Londoners and arriving first responders, continues.

“It was a very extraordinary event that happened, but never-the-less the city was prepared for that," said Hepditch.

Labouceur added, “A lot of questions were asked about that incident, and those will come out in time.”

But as the public waits, Mayor Josh Morgan reminded Londoners of the risks responders take when coming to our aid.

“They’re the ones ensuring that when something happens, we are as safe as possible, and the loss of life is minimized,” he said. 

Chief Thai Truong of the London Police Service is seen on May 6, 2024. (Sean Irvine/CTV News London)


Upcoming test notification 

On Tuesday, Londoners who have signed up for Alert London will receive a test notification. Londoners who are listed in the white and yellow pages database may also receive a call on their landlines, even if they have not registered for Alert London.

In the event of emergencies, such as explosions and hazardous material spills, Alert London will provide critical public safety messages to anyone who has registered for the notification system.

Tuesday's system test will happen at 10:55 a.m.

— With files from CTV News London's Kristylee Varley Top Stories

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