Amendments to Ontario's fire code should improve safety, says chief fire prevention officer
A fire at a seniors' residence in L'Isle-Verte, Quebec, that has left three people dead, and another 30 unaccounted for has had a strong impact on Tony Parmar, director of Pioneer Manor.
“Everybody's thoughts are with the families and the residents who were impacted by that fire,” said Parmar.
There was a fire at Pioneer Manor in October 2006, but the results were very different from Wednesday night's tragedy in Quebec. Staff managed to evacuate all residents to the long-term care facility's newer wing, and there were no injuries.
“That's just proof that the evacuation procedures at Pioneer Manor met the requirements of the fire safety plan,” said Marc Lanthier, chief fire prevention officer with the City of Greater Sudbury.
In L'Isle-Verte, there have been early reports that the part of the building destroyed by the fire – built in 1997 – did not have a sprinkler system.
At Pioneer Manor, said Parmar, 90 per cent of the resident home areas are covered by a sprinkler system.
He added the institution's capital budget for 2014 includes funding to cover the remaining 10 per cent of home areas with the sprinkler system. That work should be completed by April or May of this year, Parmar said.
An amendment to Ontario's fire code, implemented on Jan. 1, 2014, requires all nursing, long-term care (or care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies under the legislation) and retirement homes be fully covered by a sprinkler system.
Lanthier said depending on the size and purpose of an institution, the deadline to comply with the new regulations can range between two and 10 years.
The new amendment to the fire code also requires Greater Sudbury's 40 to 50 care and treatment occupancies, and retirement homes to have a fire drill approved and supervised by the fire service on an annual basis.
Facilities must already perform their own regular fire drills on a monthly basis.
“(But) they have to prove to the fire service that they can evacuate everybody out of every room in that fire zone,” Lanthier said, referring to the supervised annual drill.
He added the changes will improve safety for Ontario's long-term care and retirement homes.
David Munch, executive director of Finlandia Village, said the long-term care facility already complies with the province's updated leglislation. Munch said it is important to ensure the safety of their residents, who are often vulnerable during an emergency.