July 8, 2022 Published by Huronia Chapter - By Michelle Farley

Budgets - Fire Safety

From the CCI Huronia Summer 2022 Condo Buzz Newsletter

Budgets varying depending on factors about your condominium, size, age and community. The fire code is applied in a similar way. A townhouse complex has simpler life safety systems and fire safety requirements, these obligations increase in low rise buildings, with even more obligations for hi-rise, and multi-tower condo buildings. The budgeting needs and potential for unexpected issues that impact budgets vary depending on the type of condo complex.

The bottom line is, no matter the type, all condos require some form of Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems line in their budget.

The Fire Code is the law, having a Fire Safety budget is not a choice! However, you have choices when it comes to what your life safety system budget will look like. A townhouse complex with no shared life safety systems may only require the budget to print and distribute annual reminders to the residents outlining their responsibility to have, maintain and test the smoke and co detectors in their units.

For condominiums with shared life safety systems, it’s a little more complex. Your fire alarm, extinguishers and smoke alarms have to be inspected by a qualified contractor annually, as per the fire code, this needs to be in your budget. For monthly inspections, you have the option of having a contractor conduct them or taking care of them yourselves, which can help reduce your budget. If you chose to do these yourself, only someone trained can take this on, you must have procedures to make sure these checks are being completed, documented and the records are being maintained. You can evaluate which is the safest choice for your corporation.

Contractor choices can save you money but remember, cheaper is not always better. You need to know your annual budget for test and maintenance costs, but also potential balloons cost. Pre-planning upcoming mandated maintenance with your contractor or consultant will allow you to plan for higher expenses such as hydrostatic testing of extinguishers or sprinkler systems. Find the right fit based on your building. A small, local service firm may be perfect for your townhouse or low-rise community, but not as experienced for your hi-rise buildings.

As with any complex systems, things can break or go wrong, and unexpected expenses can arise. If you have an issue with your Life Safety System or receive a Notice of Violation or Inspection Order treat this as an emergency, it IS an emergency. If your Life Safety Systems are not working or your building is not completely Fire Code Compliant, your building is at risk. Have emergency Life Safety System repair costs in your budget. You know the reasons to pay special attention to life safety budgets; This is about life safety, your safety, your neighbour’s safety and protecting your investment.

Make the most of your budgets;

  1. Review your fire code obligations and anticipated expenditures with your fire code consultant and make a five- and ten-year plan, including annual reviews of your FSP or proactive maintenance based on your building and resources.
  2. Prepare for the unexpected, make sure there is wiggle room in your operating and reserve budgets for fire safety emergencies that may not be covered by insurance.
  3. Develop a fire safety culture in your community so when fire code expenses arise your people are receptive.

Maintaining proactive Fire Code Compliance, and budgeting for your buildings unique Life Safety needs accurately will save you time and money, and most importantly, keep your people safe! When in doubt, rely on your experts! We are here to help!

Michelle Farley
FCS Fire Consulting Services Inc.


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