The Thunder Bay fire service has laid a charge and issued an order to Beendigen Incorporated after a recent fire in one of its housing units.
The occupants of the Balsam Street residence were alerted to the Oct. 5 fire by a passerby. Two children suffered smoke inhalation and required hospital treatment.
The fire service reports it has charged Beendigen with failing to maintain smoke alarms in operating condition.
It's also requested a written plan to address what the fire service calls a systemic lack of smoke alarm maintenance procedures — a determination made after an inspection of additional properties operated by Beendigen.
Maintenance is ‘vital’
Fire chief John Hay said it's disappointing the enforcement measures are necessary, but the agency has a mandate to provide safety and shelter for vulnerable families.
"The maintenance of all fire safety devices should be a vital component of this mandate," Hay said in a news release.
The Ontario Fire Code requires owners to maintain smoke alarms in operating condition.
The release added that "the disposition of additional Fire Code deficiencies is currently being processed by Thunder Bay Fire and Rescue."
According to Beendigen's web site, it operates 20, three-bedroom housing units, four, two-bedroom units and two, four-bedroom units, under guidelines established by the Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board. Rent is geared to income.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Beendigen's acting executive director said safety remains the organization's top priority. Josephine Mandamin said "On an ongoing basis Beendigen staff continue to remind...tenants about the importance of smoke alarms and the many risks associated with disconnecting or removing these devices....Beendigen is committed to work hand in hand with the Thunder Bay fire department to ensure the safety of all our tenants."