OPTIONS FOR ACHIEVING COMPLIANCE FOR SPRINKLER INSTALLATIONS IN CARE OCCUPANCIES AND RETIREMENT HOMES
December 6, 2018
In May 2013, Ontario Regulation 150/13 was filed to amend the Fire Code with new requirements that apply to care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies, and retirement homes regulated under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010. These requirements include provisions for enhanced fire safety planning, compulsory training, and mandatory upgrades to existing buildings, including the installation of sprinklers and other building retrofits. To facilitate implementation by building owners and operators, compliance deadlines for the new requirements have been phased in since January 1, 2014. The final compliance deadline for care occupancies and retirement homes is January 1, 2019, and relates to sprinkler installation requirements under article 188.8.131.52. of Division B of the Fire Code.
Compliance with sprinkler installation, and other requirements in Part 9 of the Fire Code, is generally achieved through implementation of the prescriptive code requirement, however, other options are available for achieving compliance, including the following:
- implementation of an approved Life Safety Study in accordance with subsection 9.1.4. of Division B of the Fire Code; or
- implementation of an approved Alternative Solution under subsection 1.3.2. of Division C of the Fire Code.
While substituting either a Life Safety Study or an Alternative Solution for a code requirement may not always be feasible, these approaches to achieving compliance may be effective in select situations as either interim or permanent solutions. Fire departments are encouraged to review these two compliance options with owners/operators of care occupancies or retirement homes that may be experiencing challenges with meeting sprinkler requirements.
It is important to note that Life Safety Studies and Alternative Solutions must be developed by either a professional engineer or an architect, and must be submitted to the Chief Fire Official (CFO) for approval. When a proposal is not accepted by the CFO, building owners/operators may appeal the decision in the same manner as they would for an order. The first stage of appeal involves making a request to the Fire Marshal for a review. A Fire Marshal review of a Life Safety Study or Alternative Solution is directed at evaluating the adequacy of proposed alternative measures.
The process for sprinkler implementation is complex as it involves a number of steps, including securing funds, applying for building permits, and construction. As these steps may introduce delays, it is important that, during this process, fire departments continue working with owners/operators to ensure active progress towards compliance is being made.
For buildings not in compliance on January 1, 2019, enforcement options available to fire departments are outlined in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 (FPPA). A case-by-case assessment of risk factors, progress being made towards compliance, as well as local policies and procedures, will inform the selection of enforcement action in these instances. When the option to issue an inspection order under subsection 21.(1) is exercised, the right to request a Fire Marshal review should be reviewed with the owner/operator as he or she may be unfamiliar with the appeal process established under the FPPA. For situations involving multiple fire safety risk factors, enforcement options may include orders to close or authorizations to close under subsection 21.(2) of the FPPA, both requiring Fire Marshal approval.
For a comprehensive set of resources to assist owners/operators and fire departments, please visit the Web pages on care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies, and retirement homes on the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) Web site.
Information on the regulation of retirement homes under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 is available through the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority. For retirement homes enrolled in the Fire Sprinkler Retrofit Program for Licensed Small or Rural Retirement Homes, information about the program is available from the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.
Questions on the compliance deadline for sprinkler installations in care occupancies and retirement homes may be directed to Technical Services; staff members can be reached by telephone at (647) 329-1100, or through the MCSCS Web site on the Ask OFM page.