This past month two Ontario building owners received hefty fines for violations of the Ontario Fire Code, together the fines amount to over $116,000.00. The first being a numbered company in Niagara Falls who was found guilty of a number of violations ranging from; missing smoke alarms, fire doors being wedged open and combustible material being stored in a mechanical room. The company received a court ordered fine of $54,000.00. Niagara Falls has for many years taken a very aggressive stance with regards to fire code violations, Assistant Fire Chief Jim Jessop was quoted after the verdict stating; "The Niagara Falls Fire Department hopes this sends a clear message that violations of the Ontario Fire Code place both the public and the firefighters responding to buildings at risk and will not be tolerated within our municipality”. This stance is one that is being adopted by many departments throughout the province.
A Mississauga property management company; Trans-Globe Property Management was fined $50,000.00 plus a victim surcharge fee of $12,500.00 after pleading guilty to 135 safety violations found in a St Catherines 10 storey apartment building. Firefighters discovered a number of violations when responding to a fire in the building, fortunately no one was hurt in the blaze. St Catherines Fire Chief Mark Mehlenbacher also publicly stated his support for the verdict and that they will continue to be vigilant with building owners who do not properly maintain life safety systems in buildings within their community.
As mentioned previously this tougher stance towards fire code violations is spreading to many departments throughout the province, including Russell. Obviously in Russell we are not dealing with the large multi unit buildings as the urban departments are, however there are a good number of rental units around the village and we want to be sure that the building owners live up to their responsibilities. This tough stance is not only being directed towards building owners, proof of this was the two fines issued to tenants of a Russell apartment building last December for intentionally disabling smoke alarms in their apartments.
The Ontario Fire Code puts the responsibility for installing and maintaining life safety devices directly on the building owner, whether it is a large apartment building, a single room apartment or house. Landlords must be diligent in verifying that their buildings meet the fire code and prove that they periodically verify this. In the case that a landlord suspects that tenants are intentionally disabling smoke alarms, we strongly advise that the local fire department is contacted to deal with the issue.
Published in the Villager newspaper February 6, 2011 No part of this article can be reprinted or reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of The Russell Fire Department's Public Education Division.
Published in the Villager newspaper February 6, 2011
No part of this article can be reprinted or reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of The Russell Fire Department's Public Education Division.