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Fire shows it’s time for a change in building codes

By: Letter to the Editor

 | Feb 03, 2014 - 2:00 PM |
I have a major beef with the federal and provincial governments that legislate building codes and various safety standards in Canada.

These standards are usually minimum standards and don’t always go as far as they should.

The horrific fire in the nursing home in L’Isle-Verte, Que., is a case in point.
I can’t imagine how any responsible person, corporation or government would allow such institutions to exist without sprinkler systems throughout.

Even more troubling is the fact that this was a three-story building housing 50 or more elderly people who were to a large extent immobile, suffering from dementia or suffering from a mobility disability, and bedridden.

Everyone has observed the signs in buildings with elevators warning not to use the elevator in case of fire.

I wonder, in these seniors institutions, how the hell can the residents be evacuated in a safe and timely fashion with a minimum of staff on hand, down stairwells, when so many of them are immobile and infirm?

Too many of these institutions are private, for-profit agencies, which makes many of us question their ethics and practices.

Of course, the politicians and inspectors are now crawling out of the woodwork, saying the L’Isle-Verte home and other institutions are built to code.

The Titanic was “built to code,” but in order to save money they did not exceed the code to ensure a higher degree of safety.

Look around us, the mall roof that caved in in Elliot Lake was built to code; the train and track at Lac Megantic was operating to code; and Highway 69 South at Rock Lake where a mother and her family lost their lives was built to code — and it goes on.

It doesn’t seem anyone ends up being held accountable. Why do our governments continue to hand over the keys for such things to so-called self-regulating bodies and private, for-profit corporations?

Perhaps it’s time for a real change.

Lionel W. F. Rudd
Greater Sudbury

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