MEDIA RELEASE: Fire at Chalmers Playground

Category: District

DPD Media release can be found here:

Report from Fire Chief, Dan Copeland: “this incident came in at 3:56 AM, crews quickly identified it as the playground equipment that was on fire. The fire was struck within 20 minutes. There was no threat to the school or any other exposures.”


Delta School District staff is working closely with the Delta Police and Fire Departments in respect to the playground fire at Chalmers Elementary early this morning.

The district will be assessing options for repairs and/or a rebuild once the Delta Police and Fire Departments have completed their investigation.

The Delta School District works closely with the Corporation of Delta and school parent community when developing plans for each playground build. It is the intent of the district to create safe play environments with the students and community in mind.

Each school site is unique and offers individual challenges and considerations when placing and constructing a playground, including but not limited to:

  • Each school site has a unique land footprint, and most schools are limited in their curb-side frontage;
  • For student safety, most schools do not have available space to have a playground in front of the school; priority is given to easily the school entranceway, drop-off zones and parking areas.
  • Placing playgrounds away from busy streets is a priority;
  • Playgrounds are also placed on school property in order that staff and school monitors have clear visual access to the play areas during school hours. This may mean that the play area is not easily visible from the street, depending on the particular layout of the school property;
  • Some schools have two or three playgrounds that are designed for specific age groups. These age appropriate play areas are positioned on school grounds in such a way to maximize age appropriate physical activity in a safe manner.

As always the safety of Delta students is our highest priority, and we will be looking into how to rebuild the Chalmers’ playground to ensure our students have access to safe and engaging physical outdoor space.

The District would like to thank the Delta Police and Fire Departments for their work, and our community neighbours for their commitment to our students’ safety.



Why wood mulch?

This is a very good question, and a common misconception about Engineered Wood Fibre playground surfacing.

The wood fibre that is under school playgrounds is very different to the cedar mulch used in gardens, and has a number of purposes. First of course is student safety, as it acts as fall relief. It provides a stable, nontoxic and slip resistant surface to play.

100% natural engineered wood fibre is also carcinogen free, and fully certified by the International Play Equipment Manufacturing Association (IPEMA)

What is interesting, and unique, about engineered wood fibre is that it retains moisture, and as it breaks down over time it becomes very compact—not unlike a bog. This means that it becomes accessible to students with mobility issues, but becomes so dense oxygen can’t get into the product to burn. In essence it becomes a fire inhibitor rather than an accelerant.

Unfortunately, the use of an accelerant will facilitate the burning or melting of many materials, as we can see at the playground, which was mostly plastics and metal. Due to its compacted nature the wood fibre did not burn too deeply; however it will likely need to be replaced due to the foam used to put out the fire and melted plastic from the structure.

Will the Playground be rebuilt for the start of school?

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that repairs to the playground will be able to happen before the start of school.

There are a number of factors that need to be addressed before replacement or repairs can happen, including insurance protocols.

The playground is over 10 years old, so replacement components may not be available. Once our staff and our contractors assess the structure, replacement pieces that are similar to or “best fit” can be ordered in accordance with the District’s insurance policy.