Retirement homes and long-term care facilities will now have to fulfil new fire and building codes after changes were announced by Madeleine Meilleur, Ontario’s community safety minister. For instance, all sleeping rooms must have fully functional smoke alarms installed. Other safety regulations such as automatic sprinklers being made mandatory will go a long way in providing adequate fire protection in homes for seniors and individuals with disabilities. We’ll summarize the new sprinkler regulations in the paragraphs below.
Important Highlights On The New Changes
- All retirement homes and other care occupancies are required to disclose whether they have a sprinkler system installed in their facility.
- The new safety guidelines require all facilities to have fire alarm monitoring systems and emergency lighting as a form of fire protection.
- Facilities will have to install self-closing doors and voice communication systems that would come in handy in the event of a fire emergency.
- All facilities must perform annual fire drills. The fire drills should be done according to the guidelines.
- The facility needs to appoint a sufficient number of supervisory staff and give them the roles and responsibilities in their fire safety plan. This fire safety plan is meant to act as a guideline on what needs to be done in case of a fire hazard as well as protection measures.
- The local fire services will be required to validate the facility’s fire safety plan on an annual basis.
- Mandatory training for all the owners and operators who are in charge of making sure the fire safety plan is implemented.
Why These Changes Were Implemented
Ontario has lost 48 seniors in the past 34 years due to fire hazards that occurred in nursing homes in the area. Unfortunately, these incidences occurred mainly due to the lack of sprinkler systems in the buildings. The Ontario Retirement Communities Association even reported that an estimated 33% of nursing homes in Ontario do not have fire sprinkler systems installed. Hence, the new safety regulations are intended to make these facilities safer and significantly prevent property damage and loss of lives.
Of course these new changes have been received with mixed reactions. Some claim that the retrofits will be extremely costly for facilities. However, to help cut down on the cost of installation, some facilities are opting for the cheaper residential fire sprinklers that are up to code instead of investing in the commercial sprinklers.
Private Facilities & Licensed Retirement Homes
The good thing is that private facilities and licensed retirement homes have been given ample time to implement these changes and ensure they are up to code. They have up to 5 years to meet the new requirements. However, for the new retirement homes these new fire safety regulations have been rolled out.
If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, find out if your retirement home or care facility meets the new fire safety and compliance guidelines. You can hire an expert to perform an assessment/inspection and help you ensure you are up to code.