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Manitoba to install sprinklers in personal care homes following fatal fire last year


March 17, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) said on Tuesday that it will spend $7 million to install sprinklers and other fire safety improvements in 24 personal care homes and hospitals in the province.

Fire engulfs a seniors residence in L’Isle-Verte, Que., early Thursday, Jan.23, 2014. Many of the 30 people unaccounted for in a fatal fire in a seniors residence northeast of Quebec City had limited movement and were confined to wheelchairs and walkers, a local official said Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frances DrouinManitoba Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun, who is also responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner, said that the provincial government is accepting all the recommendations of the Fire Safety Task Force report on ways to improve fire safety in care and treatment facilities, and has already started implementation on some changes.

“After the tragic fire in L’Isle Verte, Que., last year, our government took immediate action by appointing the Fire Safety Task Force,” Braun said. “I thank the Office of the Fire Commissioner, members of the task force and all those consulted. These recommendations are one more important step in protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”

Related: Quebec should mandate sprinklers in seniors’ homes, regroup firefighter services: Coroner 

The task force made six recommendations including:

• requiring sprinklers in new residential care facilities for children and adults;

• requiring sprinklers in all existing treatment and care facilities;

• making additional training available to local authorities;

• ensuring local fire inspectors adopt a consistent approach to fire safety inspections;

• increasing public awareness about the importance of fire safety; and

• providing additional resources to the OFC and local fire authorities to support fire protection planning, inspections and reporting.

Braun and Health Minister Sharon Blady noted in a press release that a $7-million project is already underway to install sprinklers in five personal care homes and one hospital in 2015-16, and another 18 with other fire and life-safety improvements. Almost 70 per cent of health-care and personal care home facilities in Manitoba already have full or partial sprinkler systems in place, and an additional 24 projects are currently underway, Blady added in the release.

Related: Quebec fire chiefs agree with coroner on sprinklers in all seniors’ homes

In addition, the Manitoba government is investing an additional $2 million to work with fire safety experts to assess all 125 personal care homes and 62 hospitals in Manitoba to develop a comprehensive inventory of fire and life-safety systems and a 10-year plan for prioritizing facility upgrades, Braun said. She added that the review will determine if current systems provide appropriate protection and look at different options to guide future investments in fire-safety and sprinkler systems.

The task force also recommended making sprinklers mandatory in residential care facilities for adults and children licensed by Manitoba Family Services with five occupants or more.

The report estimated that the cost of implementing all recommendations to be approximately $125 million, with the government committing over $70 million for fire and life-safety upgrades over 10 years.

The OFC will take on a further review of fire and life-safety requirements for residential seniors’ homes not licensed as personal care homes or community living facilities. This review is expected to begin in the spring, Braun said.

PHOTO: Fire engulfs a seniors residence in L’Isle-Verte, Que., early Thursday, Jan.23, 2014. Many of the 30 people unaccounted for in a fatal fire in a seniors residence northeast of Quebec City had limited movement and were confined to wheelchairs and walkers, a local official said Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frances Drouin