Provincial government makes sprinklers mandatory in all seniors' homes
One year after a deadly fire at a senior’s residence in Quebec, the provincial government is ordering all existing residences to install sprinkler systems.
The government estimates it will cost residences $260 million over the next five years to bring their buildings up to the new code.
The announcement was made one week after a coroner’s report into a tragic fire that killed 32 seniors over a year ago at the Residence Du Havre in L’Isle-Verte. Many of the occupants in the 52-unit building were over 85 and all but a handful were confined to wheelchairs and walkers.
Coroner Cyrille Delage’s report, released last Thursday, recommended that all senior residences be equipped with water sprinkler systems.
Quebec Labour minister Sam Hamad announced Tuesday that the provincial government will help with the expense of installing water sprinklers in all the residences, and said that the safety of seniors was more important than the cost.
“Our solution is completely in conformity with what coroner Delage asked,” said Hamad, “and with what fire protection people wished to have.”
Operators of seniors’ homes will have 5 years to install the automatic water sprinklers.
In the coroner’s report, Delage had also said he couldn’t understand why these prevention measures were not yet in place after all the recommendations he’s made in the past 20 years investigating fires in seniors’ homes.
The blaze at Residence Du Havre ripped through the seniors’ home so quickly, firefighters were nearly all but helpless when they got there.
On Monday, the Quebec Association of Fire Chiefs said it supports the coroner’s report, and that they had also made similar recommendations years ago.
Richard Amnotte, the fire chief for the city of Lévis, said they want a number of changes to avoid future tragedies: “Applying the building codes, making sure that staff inside those buildings are well-trained and in sufficient numbers to ensure evacuation."
The provincial government is also looking into improving evacuation plans and emergency lighting.