MANITOBA GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS ALL RECOMMENDATIONS OF FIRE SAFETY TASK FORCE
– – – $7 Million to Install Sprinklers, Fire Safety Improvements in 24 Personal Care Homes, Hospitals in 2015: Ministers
The Manitoba government is accepting all the recommendations of the Fire Safety Task Force report on ways to improve fire safety in care and treatment facilities, and has already started implementation of some changes, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun, minister responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner, and Health Minister Sharon Blady.
“After the tragic fire in L’Isle Verte, Quebec, last year, our government took immediate action by appointing the Fire Safety Task Force,” Minister Braun said. “I thank the Office of the Fire Commissioner, members of the task force and all those consulted. These recommendations are one more important step in protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”
The Fire Safety Task Force made six recommendations including:
requiring sprinklers in new residential care facilities for children and adults;
requiring sprinklers in all existing treatment and care facilities;
making additional training available to local authorities;
ensuring local fire inspectors adopt a consistent approach to fire safety inspections;
increasing public awareness about the importance of fire safety; and
providing additional resources to the Office of the Fire Commissioner and local fire authorities to support fire protection planning, inspections and reporting.
The ministers noted a $7-million project is already underway to install sprinklers in five personal care homes and one hospital in 2015-16, and another 18 with other fire and life-safety improvements.
Almost 70 per cent of health-care and personal care home facilities in Manitoba already have full or partial sprinkler systems in place, and an additional 24 projects are currently underway, Minister Blady said.
“Manitobans want to know their loved ones are safe when they are in our care,” Minister Blady said. “The task force recommendations provide a road map for ensuring all our care and treatment facilities have strong fire and life safety protections in place.”
In addition, the Manitoba government is investing an additional $2 million to work with fire-safety experts to assess all 125 personal care homes and 62 hospitals in Manitoba to develop a comprehensive inventory of fire and life-safety systems and a 10-year plan for prioritizing facility upgrades, Minister Braun said. She added the review will determine if current systems provide appropriate protection and look at different options to guide future investments in fire-safety and sprinkler systems.
The task force also recommended making sprinklers mandatory in residential care facilities for adults and children licensed by Manitoba Family Services under Community Living Disability Services and Manitoba Child and Family Services with five occupants or more. The Manitoba government invests approximately $400,000 annually for upgrades to residential care facilities, Minister Braun said.
The Fire Safety Task Force Report estimates the cost of implementing all recommendations to be approximately $125 million. The Manitoba government has committed over $70 million for fire and life-safety upgrades over 10 years. It will work through the budgetary process to secure additional funds to cover the cost of upgrades to public and private treatment and care facilities, Minister Braun noted.
The Fire Safety Task Force looked at a range of fire and life-safety activities including fire protection and early warning systems, code enforcement and inspections, education and prevention, as well as emergency and fire planning. Chaired by staff from the Office of the Fire Commissioner, the task force included representatives from the Manitoba Building Standards Board, the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs, front-line fire services, regional health authorities and several Manitoba government departments. Expertise and input was also sought from the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, local certified sprinkler system installers, municipal governments and others.
Implementing the recommendations of this report will ensure licensed treatment and care facilities meet the new fire and life-safety standards, the ministers noted.
In addition, the Office of the Fire Commissioner will take on a further review of fire and life-safety requirements for residential seniors’ homes not licensed as personal care homes or community living facilities. This review is expected to begin in the spring of 2015, Minister Braun said.