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Many factors in seniors’ home fire: coroner


February 12, 2015
By The Canadian Press

Feb. 12, 2015, Montreal - A Quebec coroner says several factors contributed to the tragic fire at a seniors' home that killed 32 people a little over a year ago.

Cyrille Delage says in his final report into the fire at the L'Isle Verte, Que. home that building codes weren't properly followed, employees lacked training and there were delays in firefighters getting to the scene.

Delage called for a review of emergency procedures at seniors' residences across the province.

"We have to better the security rules in seniors homes in order to avoid similar tragedies like the one that occurred at the Residence du Havre," he wrote in a report released Thursday.

Fire swept quickly through the home in the early morning hours of Jan. 23, 2014.

The residence housed 52 elderly people, including many who couldn't move around without the use of a walker or wheelchair.

Delage also recommended changing the province's building codes to make automatic sprinklers mandatory in all certified seniors residences, old and new.

Delage also recommended that provincial authorities encourage rural and urban cities and towns to centralize fire services and to regularly review fire-fighting procedures.

He called on municipalities across the province to regroup firefighters services in order to have a co-ordinated plan under common leadership.

Delage said that smoke detectors in seniors' homes need to be loud and visible by both employees and the people who live there. He added the detectors need to be connected to a central alarm system that alerts the local 911 centre in the region.

The coroner also had strong words for some owners of seniors' residences and politicians across the province who he said might be angry his recommendations will cost money.

"Let them (be angry) up until the moment that another disaster like this one happens again," he said. "They'll have to explain to their constituents why they did nothing."