Ontario government seeking input on fire safety changes
By HPAC MagazineHPAC General Infrastructure Fire Protection Institutional Buildings
Proposed changes to increase fire protection in retirement homes and care facilities.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services Ontario is seeking input on proposed changes to the Fire Code and Building Code that will improve fire safety in residences for seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable individuals. The proposed changes are based on expert advice from a technical advisory committee led by the Office of the Fire Marshal. The committee examined long-term fire safety provisions, including enhanced training, inspections and additional retrofits, such as sprinklers and self-closing doors. Proposed changes include:
• A phase-in of mandatory sprinklers for all existing care residences and retirement homes with more than four occupants over the next five years.
• Annual validation of fire safety plans by local fire services.
• Enhanced fire inspections and staff training.
• Fire safety enhancements for all new retirement homes, including mandatory sprinklers.
The government has posted the proposed changes for public comment until February 28, 2013.
As of January 1, 2013, all retirement home operators are required by law to have safety plans for residents, including emergency planning in case of fire and other risks.
More than 40 000 seniors live in about 700 retirement homes in Ontario. The Technical Advisory Committee also looked at 400 long-term care facilities and 3000 other homes for vulnerable residents.
The Technical Advisory Committee was comprised of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, industry representatives and those involved in the administration of long-term care facilities, retirement homes, and other occupancies for seniors and vulnerable people.
The Retirement Home Act requires that information about whether or not a retirement home has a fire sprinkler system is publicly available.
By 2017, Ontario will be home to more people over 65 than children under 15 for the first time.