Sprinklers mandated in homes for seniors

Duane Hicks

Ontario made official amendments to the Fire Code and Building Code yesterday, making it the first province to make automatic sprinklers mandatory in care homes for seniors and those with disabilities.
Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. CEO Allan Katz said Riverside soon will begin to work with key stakeholders to review compliance requirements for Rainycrest Long-Term Care here.
“Patient, resident, and staff safety is a paramount concern at all Riverside health care sites,” said Katz via e-mail yesterday.
“We applaud Premier Wynne’s announcement making Ontario the first province to make automatic sprinklers mandatory in care homes for seniors, homes for people with disabilities, and vulnerable Ontarians,” he added.
“Presently, we understand that all licensed retirement homes and most private-care facilities will have up to five years to install sprinklers,” Katz wrote.
“Some care and treatment facilities, including public long-term care homes like Rainycrest [which was opened in 1985], will have an 11-year phase-in period to coincide with redevelopment plans scheduled to be completed by 2025,” he explained.
Mandatory sprinklers are part of amendments to the Fire Code and Building Code that will improve fire safety in these occupancies.
Other improvements include:
•self-closing doors;
•enhanced fire inspections and staff training; and
•annual validation of fire safety plans by local fire services.
The amendments are based on recommendations made by the Technical Advisory Committee led by the Office of the Fire Marshal and public consultation.
“We are committed to moving forward with the implementation of fire safety measures, including sprinklers, to protect seniors and vulnerable Ontarians living in care homes and treatment facilities,” Community Safety and Correctional Services minister Madeleine Meilleur said in a press release yesterday.
“These amendments to the Fire Code and Building Code will bring greater protection and security for these residents and peace of mind to their loved ones,” she noted.
“This is an issue I have cared deeply about for years, and I am delighted our government is moving forward with the phase-in of mandatory sprinklers for all our retirement and long-term care homes,” echoed Municipal Affairs and Housing minister Linda Jeffrey.
“Seniors in our retirement homes need to feel safe and secure,” stressed Mario Sergio, the minister responsible for seniors.
“They need to know that there are safeguards in place that protect them.
“By mandating fire sprinklers and enhancing fire safety measures, the provincial government is demonstrating its commitment to the well-being and security of Ontario’s seniors living in retirement homes,” Sergio added.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe from fire wherever they live, regardless of age, ability, or special needs,” said Fire Marshal of Ontario Tadeusz (Ted) Wieclawek.
“Today’s announcement mandates sprinklers under the Ontario Fire Code for the first time,” he noted.
“Mandating sprinklers and other fire safety enhancements in our vulnerable occupancies is a significant milestone toward achieving this goal.”