By Jason D. Reid, Senior Advisor, National Life Safety Group

Three fatal residential high-rise fires occurred over the past week in New York City, Yellowknife and Toronto. It brings a flurry of questions from property managers here in Ontario about what building documentation will be requested for review post fire incident?

“What documentation will be reviewed after a serious incident like this?”

“What can I do as a property manager or building owner to ensure that I protect my residents?

“As a property owner, how do I protect myself?”

Jason Reid of National Life Safety Group suggests “As with all fire incidents, questions arise about how the incident was responded to by building staff.  Then, questions begin about how the incident was prepared for by building managers and owners.

These questions will review both the actions of building management before, and during the incident.

“It’s why we have standards for fire safety in Ontario,” explained Reid.

As a high level overview, if you manage a residential high-rise building in Ontario, ensure you have the following documentation readily available at all times at your property:

1) Evidence of Test and Inspection of your building’s Life Safety Systems

Each residential building is different and can have a range of life safety systems installed such as fire alarm systems, emergency voice communication systems, sprinkler and standpipe systems, smoke control systems, gas detection systems, as an example.

If you are an owner of a building, or a condominium board represented through a property manager, you need to be able to produce a document or a report that states you have tested and inspected the building’s life safety equipment as required by the Ontario Fire code for the last 12 months.  This includes any reports for daily, weekly and monthly preventative maintenance requirements.

2) An Approved and Current Fire Safety Plan

Fire Safety Plans are required for almost all residential buildings.  An approved Fire Safety Plan is a document that provides guidance to building owners and managers on their requirements for fire safety.  In addition, it provides direction to residents on fire safety procedures.   Fire Safety Plans are always approved by the local fire services.  At any time, you as the building owner, should be able to provide a current and up-to-date Fire Safety plan that has been approved by the local fire services, and has been reviewed and signed off by the building owner within the last 12 months.

If the original plan is more than 10 years old, have it redeveloped as 2018 building safety best practices have significantly changed to better protect residents.

3) Evidence of building staff training

The Fire Safety Plan is just that, a plan – until it is implemented.  In order to implement the plan, building staff must be made aware of their roles and responsibilities as outlined in the plan.  Building owners and managers should be able to produce a document or letter confirming that the building staff have been trained in the approved Fire Safety Plan, which acknowledges the implementation of the plan. This includes training of superintendents, security, concierge, cleaning staff and property management staff.  Typically, a letter that encompasses a sign in list that staff participated in the training is best.

4) Evidence of a current list of PRA’s

Within your Fire Safety Plan, building owners are required to maintain a document that outlines residents on the list of “Persons Requiring Assistance during Evacuation.”  This list will typically identify their names and suite numbers and is provided to emergency services upon their arrival to the building.  It is vital that it is kept up to date.  This list is truly a partnership between building management and residents, and the PRA list must be date, and reviewed at minimum every 12 months.  This is a requirement of the Ontario Fire Code.

5) Evidence of Fire Drills

In Ontario, supervisory staff of high-rise buildings must complete quarterly drills that allows them to practice / review their respective roles and responsibilities outlined within the Fire Safety Plan.

Each drill must be documented and staff of high-rise buildings are required to hold a minimum of four Fire drills per year. This signifies that you are required to have four fire drill documents.  Fire drills are meant to prepare and test staff on a regular basis and are a crucial component of continuous building staff training.

6) Evidence of Resident Fire Drill / Communication of Emergency Procedures

Ensure that you as a property manager or building owner have communicated emergency procedures to residents at minimum every 12 months, or provided them an opportunity to practice / review their own roles and responsibilities in the plan.  It is important that residents are reminded at least annually of the fire alarm procedures, and their own respective roles and responsibilities.

If you manage a residential high-rise building in Ontario, ensure you have your documentation readily available at all times at your property.

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Links to recent articles:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/07/us/trump-tower-fire/index.html

https://globalnews.ca/news/4134496/fatal-apartment-fire-etobicoke/

https://www.myyellowknifenow.com/28734/fatal-yellowknife-apartment-fire-deemed-not-suspicious/

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About National Life Safety Group

National Life Safety Group is a trusted fire, safety and emergency management consultancy firm. We provide leadership and innovation to the safety, security and property operations industries.

We specialize in: Fire Safety Plans, Team Development and Training, Fire, Life Safety, and Code Compliance, Workplace Emergency Management, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Evacuation Drill and Exercise Design, Workplace Education: Lunch and Learn, and Emergency Response Plans

Contact: Main: 647-794-5505  Toll Free: 1-877-751-0508