The 5 October 2004, fire on the HMCS CHICOUTIMI resulted in one fatality and several smoke inhalation injuries among the 56 surviving crewmembers. Following the fire, Canadian Forces Health Services supported the initial medical care of the crew, as well as an environmental health and safety investigation of the submarine at port in Faslane, Scotland.
Upon returning to Canada, the HMCS CHICOUTIMI crew (CC) was subject to extensive medical follow-up as a cohort, until approximately one-year post-fire. Additionally, they received enhanced post-deployment mental health screening in early 2005. After that the CC was supported medically through their military and civilian primary health care providers.
The investigation of the fire involved experimental re-creation of the fire scene by the National Research Council of Canada to help better understand the exposures involved. During this time, concern built among the crew about the health consequences of the incident. In 2008, with the support of the Surgeon General and the Clinical Council, the Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CF H Svcs Gp) committed to this research study which included a health status report of the crew.
Following an ethics board review and the approval of the Directorate of Access to Information & Privacy, the HMCS CHICOUTIMI Health Surveillance Study commenced in 2010.
This study compares health indicators extracted from the military health files of the 56 affected CC in the five years preceding the fire to the five years after the event, to that of a randomly selected group of unexposed Royal Canadian Navy submariners (Controls) for the same time periods. Similarly, the health of the Faslane Care & Custody Team (CCT), who used personal protective equipment and tended the submarine after the incident, were included in the study as a second group of potentially exposed personnel. The CCT and Controls did not receive enhanced medical screening (as did the CC group) after the fire.
The resulting data were analyzed to provide insights into the health effects associated with the fire. In addition to the identification, documentation, and analysis of the early and medium-term health effects to guide care, this report provides a foundation to guide decisions regarding future studies on the potential health effects of the fire.
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