Toronto is responding to recent high-profile high-rise building fires by increasing scrutiny of fire safety systems. One focus of this scrutiny is ensuring smoke control systems are functioning as expected. The City recently hired more than 300 new fire inspectors to enforce compliance with what is known as Part 7 of Ontario’s building code. Their goal is to inspect every high-rise building at least once each year.
When an infraction is identified Fire Code charges may be laid against condominium corporation managers, board of directors, and possibly unit owners for in-suite infractions. This comes in the form of an Inspection Order or Notice of Violation.
Preventing fire code violations are easier and cheaper than defending them.
Trace Consulting Group Ltd is an engineering firm providing design and project management for retrofits and renovations. Sam Soltani identifies how to minimize the risk of fire code violations resulting in an Inspection Order or Notice of Violation.
Utilize a fire services provider
Work with an experienced and knowledgeable fire services provider (FSP) to implement a fire safety program tailored to your building. FSPs are familiar with the complicated and confusing Fire Code and requirements which can lead to errors and misunderstandings. They know what to test for and notice violations most would miss.
Maintain good records
The first document requested of an inspector is a current Fire Safety Plan; one that is reviewed at least annually. The inspector relies on this document to understand how well a community manages its fire safety obligations. Other documents to be maintained include past fire safety inspection notices and inspection reports; and when smoke detectors are tested and ducts cleaned.
Remind owners to test and replace smoke detector batteries, and clean lint traps.
Dealing with Inspection Order or Notice of Violation
It is best to immediately deal with any order or notice received. That means rectifying violations. Responsiveness can result in charges being dropped or fines reduced.
Retain a Consultant to prepare Part 7 Testing Procedures
It is now a requirement that buildings over 18 meters (five or six stories) have “smoke control” procedures prepared and stamped by a professional engineer. As inspectors visit properties these procedures can be requested and logs reviewed.
Buildings are required to maintain records of tests to prove compliance with code requirements, and provide them to the Fire Department upon request. The Fire Department wants to know your community is working to avoid Fire Code violations.