By Laura King
Nov. 19, 2010, London, Ont. – Ontario Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Jim Bradley says a consultation process to determine how best to protect vulnerable citizens in care facilities may result in sprinklers and other measures to ensure there are fewer fire deaths.
By Laura King
Bradley told members of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs at their mid-term meeting on Thursday that the consultation process, which begins Nov. 29, is a stepping stone that will lead to better protection for seniors in care facilities, and for firefighters.
The OAFC has pushed for sprinklers in all care facilities for years following several fatal fires. The association stepped up its campaign to retrofit all older seniors homes after four people died following a fire at the Muskoka Heights retirement residence in Orillia in January 2009.
Sprinklers are already required in newly built seniors homes but the OAFC has been advocating for the government require owners of older homes to retrofit their buildings with sprinklers.
The Dalton McGuinty government announced on Oct. 21 that it will begin consultations to improve fire safety in residences for seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable Ontarians.
The OAFC made it clear to its members this week that while consultations are going on it is still their responsibility to make sure that fire safety plans for these types of buildings are up to date and accurate.
OAFC President Tim Beckett told the chiefs to deploy their fire officers to all care facilities in Ontario to test their fire-safety plans. Beckett says that if a facility cannot meet the requirements of its fire safety plan then the fire department should withdraw approval of the plan until owners make the necessary changes. “It is the owners’ responsibility and liability to protect their residents,” Beckett said.
“We are the guardians of public safety and it is up to us to ensure that the owners of these care facilities have up to date fire safety plans that work.”