Fire Fighting in Canada

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Nursing home owners plead guilty

Oct. 2, 2010, Orillia, Ont. - The owners of an Orillia, Ont., nursing home have pleaded guilty to charges arising from a fatal fire in January 2009.

October 1, 2010 
By The Canadian Press

The fire that broke out at 6:30 a.m. at the Muskoka Heights retirement residence left four people dead _ deaths fire officials called needless.

Six other elderly residents of the privately run home suffered critical injuries in the blaze. The facility did not have a sprinkler system.

The retirement home corporation and the retirement home administrator have been convicted of violating the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

Orillia fire chief Ralph Dominelli says it's the first time in Ontario that the administrator of such a facility has been convicted under the act.


The corporation was fined $62,500 and the administrator was fined $18,750 for failing to ensure supervisory staff were instructed in fire emergency procedures and for failing to conduct fire drills for supervisory staff.

Witnesses said a nurse on duty at the home said she first noticed the fire in a medicine room after she came back downstairs from helping a resident shower and ran across the street to get help.

Several other neighbourhood residents rushed over to the scene to help, with some taking the seniors into their homes for shelter.

"This tragic case highlights the need for changes to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act that would require automatic sprinklers in care occupancies,'' Dominelli said Friday in a release.

Ontario's fire chiefs said the convictions send a clear message that failure to comply with the Fire Code is unacceptable.

The chiefs also echoed Dominelli's call for compulsory automatic fire sprinklers in all care occupancies, such as retirement homes.

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