Professional smoke alarm maintenance mandated in care facilities

Ontario also passes CO legislation, was first to require sprinklers in homes
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Monday, January 20, 2014

MARKHAM, Ontario—New public safety legislation will benefit Ontario residents and the fire alarm industry, according to Steve Clemens, the executive director of the Canadian Fire Alarm Association, based here.

He said an important law recently approved in Ontario “is vulnerable occupancy legislation, which is really going to help our industry.” A vulnerable occupancy is a place where people with physical and mental disabilities live, and the new legislation requires professional maintenance of their smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, Clemens said.

With the new legislation, he told Security Systems News, “we don’t have to worry about the property owner or the occupant of a building where there’s vulnerable [people with] handicaps or learning or physical disabilities; now they’re going to be mandated that they have their smoke alarms and their carbon monoxide alarms actually maintained by a certified fire alarm technician.”

He said the legislation was recently approved but details of when it will take effect and how it will be enforced are still pending. “We just got it enacted,” Clemens said in early January. “It’s still going through the province and no one is quite sure how to enforce it but they’re still working with groups on how it’s going to be implemented by the Ontario Fire Marshal, so we are closely watching and being part of that negotiation.”

Clemens said CFAA is “the only national organization currently in Canada that trains and registers fire alarm technicians” to meet such requirements. “Our fire alarm training is recognized by all the provinces right now,” he said.

Ontario also recently passed a law making carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in homes with a fuel-burning appliance or attached garage. The Hawkins Gignac Act—named after a family of four that died from CO poisoning originating from a gas fireplace—won approval in December 2013, five years after such CO legislation was proposed.

Clemens said that for the safety of Ontario residents, the new law is “a great one.” He said the industry has been involved in setting standards for CO detectors and determining where they’re placed in a building.

According to the fire marshal’s Web page, Ontario in 2013 also became the first province to mandate fire sprinklers in homes that care for seniors and people with disabilities. Protecting seniors and other vulnerable citizens is all part of the Ontario government’s “efforts to ensure a just and fair society for all,” according to the fire marshal’s website.