Ontario's Fire Chiefs Applaud Province for Mandating Automatic Sprinkler Systems



    TORONTO, June 18 /CNW/ - The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs is today
applauding the provincial government's initiative to mandate automatic
sprinkler systems in newly constructed condos and apartment buildings that are
higher than three storeys.
    "This is an important first step and we commend the McGuinty government
for moving forward," said Richard Boyes, President of the Ontario Association
of Fire Chiefs (OAFC).
    "Ultimately, we would like to see sprinklers being made mandatory in all
new residential units including single-family dwellings, townhouses, and
low-rise buildings."
    Over the past seven years in Ontario, there has been an average of
28,569 fires per year resulting in 101 deaths, 862 injuries and $414.3 million
in property damage annually. A recent study by the National Fire Protection
Association in the U.S. found that sprinklers in residential properties reduce
fire fatalities by at least 57 per cent.
    The changes to the Building Code will come into effect on April 1, 2010.
    "We recognize that mandating residential sprinklers will not solve this
problem overnight, but it is an important step in making our communities safer
and, over time, it will help reduce the loss of life and property due to
fires," said Boyes, who is also the Oakville Fire Chief.
    Scottsdale, Arizona, and Vancouver, B.C., both require all new
residential units to have sprinkler systems. Since the regulations in each
jurisdiction came into effect - 22 years ago in Scottsdale and 18 years ago in
Vancouver - not a single fire fatality has occurred in homes with sprinkler
systems.
    "We would like to see Ontario be a leader as well, and achieve a similar
safety record," Boyes said.
    Sprinklers can also have a significant impact on lowering the costs of
structural damage due to fires.
    In Scottsdale, for example, the average fire damage in homes with
sprinklers has been about $2,000 compared with $45,000 in homes without
sprinklers. The Vancouver experience has been similar. The average loss in
homes with sprinklers has been about $1,000 compared with $14,000 in homes
without sprinklers.
    Automatic sprinklers also reduce how far and fast a fire can spread,
enabling firefighters to bring fires under control more quickly and in greater
safety.
    "The installation of residential sprinklers will never eliminate the need
for adequately staffed fire stations and fire trucks. But mandating automatic
sprinklers will reduce the amount of time our already stretched municipal fire
services spend fighting fires, allowing them to put more resources into
expanding areas, such as emergency services," explained Fire Chief Boyes.
    OAFC advocates the use of automatic sprinklers together with smoke alarms
in residential buildings. The smoke alarm provides an early warning and the
sprinkler system works to suppress the flames in the critical minutes before
rescue and fire fighting efforts can get underway.
    "Those opposed to mandating sprinklers have said they're concerned about
the costs and the impact on the prices of new homes. But the same was said
about seat belts and air bags in motor vehicles, and today these devices are
recognized as essential life-saving equipment that no one would do without,"
noted Fire Chief Boyes.

    OAFC is a non-profit organization that serves and represents senior fire
service managers from the 478 fire departments across the province of Ontario.
These Chief Officers lead 29,925 fire fighters - 10,729 full-time,
19,054 volunteer and 142 part-time fire fighters. It is the Fire Chiefs who
are responsible for the protection of public safety through the delivery of
fire, emergency, rescue, fire protection and public education services.





For further information:

For further information: Fire Chief Richard Boyes, President, Ontario
Association of Fire Chiefs, (905) 338-4426; Rachel Sa, PR POST, (416)
777-0368

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Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs

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