That headline is not hyperbole. It’s also not a scare tactic. We’re not here to scare people. We’re here to help.
Our job is to make people aware of the risks before they become scary. That’s what we’re going to do today.
The reality is that a growing risk of fires in residential buildings and condo buildings has led to a new movement to make sure our buildings are as safe as humanly possible.
This movement will require a shift in thinking for a lot of building owners, managers, and condo boards across Ontario.
A Growing Risk
If you’ve watched the local news in recent years, you’ve probably noticed that we’re seeing more residential fires than ever before.
The pandemic forced countless people to work from home, which led to a record-high number of residential fires in Ontario in 2020. Then, that number was surpassed in 2021. And then again in 2022.
Simply put, more people at home means more risk in our homes. As a result, our local fire departments are doing everything they can to safeguard people.
A Focus on Enforcement
Over the last few years, local fire departments have mobilized to carry out more inspections to ensure that our buildings are safe. We can confidently say that you will get inspected in 2023.
Unfortunately, a lot of building owners and managers are not ready. This is nobody’s fault. We’re in unprecedented times.
Many assume they have invested in the most modern fire safety system that money can buy. It was functional and compliant when the building was built a few years ago.
We have found that even the most diligent building owners and managers still have some gaps in their fire safety compliance. Trust us when we say that it is better to have someone like us find these gaps, versus having an inspector find them.
A lot has changed. The fire department is not coming by to ensure that your life safety system is new enough or modern enough. They’re inspecting your building to ensure that the system is functional and has been properly maintained. They’re also ensuring that your staff’s training, your day-to-day operations, and your documentation are all where they need to be.
The process of all of these things being audited for the first time can be really eye-opening—shocking even.
A lot of people that assumed that their fire safety was “good enough” soon find that they have a number of deficiencies that need to be addressed. And they may find themselves with an inspection order, or even a fine.
Growing Complexity in Life Safety Systems
A few years ago, our life systems were simple and easy to test.
“There is an alarm and sprinklers. When we pull the pull station, does the fire alarm go off? Done.”
Now, our life safety systems are incredibly complex, with a number of systems that need to be functional at all times. On top of that, we don’t simply need to make sure each one of these respective systems is fully functional. We need to ensure that all of these integrated systems are communicating properly and that the proper sequential series of events is triggered.
For example, your elevators may appear to be fully functional and even pass an individual test. However, until you test your systems in an integrated fashion, you may not realize the elevators are not being engaged properly, or they’re not properly triggering the next sequential event that needs to take place.
This is why we’ve seen the introduction and increased enforcement of integrated testing in recent years. This may include:
Part 7 Smoke Control
CAN/ULC-S1001 Standard for Integrated Systems Testing
If your smoke control testing is not up to date, or you have a new build /significant retrofit planned in the near future, integrated testing is likely required. You should definitely contact us as soon as possible.
The Mindset Shift Required
It’s very easy to look at all of this, and just see it as a new logistic nightmare and a financial burden.
We want to help people shift that thinking. And it’s more about making an investment in the safety of everybody in your building.
Think about this: You probably know somebody that has had a fire in their building over the last three years. How did it go for them? If you’re not prepared, the costs and problems associated with any fire are considerably higher than the investment you could make to prevent them.
Part of the problem is that not enough people talk about success stories. You read about a condo fire that caused a few million dollars in damage. Or you talk to somebody in your industry who just got hit with a substantial fine for problems with their life safety system.
What you probably don’t hear is people talking about how glad they are that they took their fire safety culture seriously. Or about how they had a very small fire incident, and it remained small because they were prepared. Or how glad they are that their preparation prevented a major loss and ensured nobody was hurt.
Most people don’t hear those stories. We do. We hear them from our clients all the time. And this reminds us that the work we do is crucial and that fire safety has never been more important.
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org any time, or call us at (705) 436-9865 or 1-800-281-8863.