A fatal fire at an eastern Quebec seniors’ residence, that has so far claimed five lives and left 30 missing, is raising questions about the safety of residents in similar lodgings.

The residence in question did meet provincial standards, with seniors' residences in Quebec not required to have sprinkler systems.

According to a government certification document, the Residence du Havre opened its doors in 1997, and underwent renovations several years ago.

The building had a fire alarm system including smoke detectors in individual rooms, and sprinklers were installed in the newer part of the building, which is still standing.

As of Jan. 1, all retirement homes in Ontario, regardless of when they were built, are required to have a sprinkler system following similar tragedies.

Yves Desjardins, president of the Quebec Seniors Residences Association, has been fighting to make sprinklers mandatory, saying “more has to be done.”

At an afternoon press conference, Quebec Security Minister Agnes Maltais spoke about the standards in place concerning fires in private seniors’ residences.

She said though it’s unclear which parts of the home had sprinklers and which did not, there must be sprinklers in the areas of private seniors’ residences that house people with no autonomy.

“Everybody seems to target the (sprinklers) but we’re not sure it was the reason why (the fire started),” she said.

Maltais stressed that no action will be taken until the details of the fire’s cause are clearer. She added changes may be to the rules depending on the result of the inquiry.

“We do believe they are well protected, but we always have to tighten the rules each time we see there’s a failure somewhere,” she said.

It can house 60 residents in total, and the majority of its residents at the time of certification were 85 years old or older.

There are 18 units available for autonomous seniors and 34 available for those who are semi-autonomous.

During the work week, eight employees are present at the residence during the day. That number drops to three in the evening and two overnight.

The latest rules came into effect in March 2013. There are 2,038 private seniors’ residences in Quebec, and 93 per cent of them are certified, Maltais said.