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Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail on fire safety

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Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail

Re: Stop the nonsense. Require sprinklers in all nursing homes, January 27

The deaths of 32 seniors in the town of L’Isle-Verte, Quebec is tragic. There are many questions being asked in this case about building and fire codes, provincial and federal that need to be addressed. Susan Eng makes a valid point about most legislation for safety and fire protection applying only to new buildings.

The Canadian Hearing Society has long been advocating for changes to policy and legislation for fire protection in new and existing buildings. We’ve asked the government to mandate visual alarms in every building as almost 25 per cent of adult Canadians have some hearing loss and more than two thirds of our aging population (66% of adults over 70). Whether older adults live in seniors’ residences, nursing homes or on their own, any building they live in should have visual alarms systems to notify them of a fire.  

In Ontario, the government recently amended the Ontario Building Code requiring all new residential buildings to have their smoke and fire alarms include a visual component as of January 2015. We continue to advocate that the Ontario Fire Code be amended to require existing buildings to have accessible fire protection for everyone.

Visual alarms for fire and smoke use a strobe light system in addition to sound, and can mean the difference between life and death for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Research states that if a fire activates a smoke detector you may have as little as two minutes to escape, but if you can’t hear the alarm, then you may have no time at all.

If we are to avoid this tragedy happening again, government must deal with the existing buildings that can be a death trap for those who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Chris Kenopic, President and CEO, Canadian Hearing Society

 

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