Environmental/Utilities Issues

May, 25 2023 Published by Grand River Chapter - By Corey Sargeant

Annual Fire Inspections

Annual fire inspections in your Condominium are a requirement of the fire code, while some owners, board members and property managers may find the process onerous, or an interruption of their day, all should remember this issue relates directly to life safety and should garner the attention that is deserved not fulfilled and filed away as a requirement that has been met.

Annual fire inspections in your Condominium are a requirement of the fire code, while some owners, board members and property managers may find the process onerous, or an interruption of their day, all should remember this issue relates directly to life safety and should garner the attention that is deserved not fulfilled and filed away as a requirement that has been met.

Most would think of annual fire inspections in a Condominium as they relate to large multi unit buildings with sprinklers, heat sensors and common fire alarms. Those inspections are quite typical and would be contracted on an annual basis with respect to both inspections and resolution of any noted deficiencies, those inspections are driven by the fire code as noted below.

Fire Inspection – O.F.C. 6.3.2.1

In-suite – O.F.C. 6.3.2.6

Fire Extinguisher – O.F.C. 6.2.7.1 (1)

Emergency Lights – O.F.C. 2.7.3.3 (1)

Sprinkler – NFPA 13-2013

Fire Hose – NFPA 25 / OFC 6.4.2.4

On the other side of the Condominium world is the atypical standard condominium with no integrated fire system to speak of. In cases such as this, opinions on annual requirements for inspections tend to differ greatly despite the requirements of the fire code. Many persons including owners, board members and managers feel that because an owner is ultimately responsible for the life saving devices such as smoke detectors and CO detectors within their home as per their governing documents that an inspection of some form is not required, or at minimum to absolve a condominium of liability a reminder letter is sent annually to check and or change your detectors appropriately. Inevitably not all forms are returned and or life saving devices are not inspected accordingly. Recently I have had several discussions around this type of situation with local inspectors in SW Ontario. Keeping in mind that an annual inspection is required a best practice for a corporation would be to involve a contractor to perform an annul inspection of all suites with deficiencies being addressed. At minimum a corporation should be sending some type of form with a due date and follow up to ensure completion, this form should include the following and a corporation should ensure all forms are completed in full and filed for a period of 2 years. Forms should capture the following.

Address of unit

Location of each detector

Type of detector (battery, 2 wire or 3 wire interconnected)

Expiry date

Battery changed if applicable

Sign off by resident and owner if tenanted

Please remember the following when it comes to detectors in your condominium

  • Any replacement smoke or CO Alarm must be of the same style, hardwired or interconnected smoke alarms must be replaced with same to ensure proper operation.
  • If you live in a house, a townhouse or other single family dwelling (not an apartment) you need a smoke alarm on every level and outside all bedrooms. This could mean 3 in a house that has a basement, main floor and upper floor. If you live in an apartment you must at least have one outside the bedrooms.
  • Smoke alarms must be located outside of bedroom areas. The rule of thumb is that a smoke alarm must be within 5 meters (15 feet) of EVERY bedroom door.
  • Once per year and immediately after any change in tenancy (new tenant) the smoke alarms must be tested by pushing the test button (hold for a count of 5 seconds) and ensuring that the alarm sound is heard.
  • Electric smoke alarms (also known as hardwired) are considered superior due to the reliability of the electrical system in Ontario. Once a hardwired smoke alarm is installed it must remain hardwired. You cannot remove a hardwired smoke alarm and replace it with a battery only smoke alarm. This is called reducing the level of detection.
  • Smoke alarms must be less than 10 years old.

In conclusion while all realize the need to ensure annual inspections have been completed, I hope this post brings to light best practices or requirements moving forward with respect to life safety.


Corey Sargeant
President
G3 Property Solutions Ltd.

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