The chief of Thunder Bay Fire Rescue says retirement homes must now comply with more stringent fire regulations.
As of January 1, 2014, they have the same fire safety requirements as long-term care facilities, John Hay said. The provincial government recently brought in new rules after a coroner's inquest into a 2009 retirement home fire in southern Ontario.
Hay made the comments after news of a horrific fire that destroyed a seniors' home in Quebec early Thursday morning, killing at least five people. About 30 people are still missing.
Hay said the owners of Ontario retirement facilities must hold annual fire inspections and do a fire drill every year.
“They have to do it at ... a point representing the minimum staffing levels,” he said.
“As an example, at night, staffing is usually lower than during the day. So ... we would help them to conduct a fire drill during the day, so it's less disruptive to the clients, at staffing levels that replicate the night."
In long-term care homes, residents often have more severe mobility issues than in retirement homes.
The administrator at the Grandview Lodge long-term care facility in Thunder Bay said nursing homes follow stringent fire regulations.
"Our staff must be trained on an annual basis,” Wendy Kirkpatrick said.
“We have regular fire drills — three a month [and] one on every shift including nights."
In addition to frequent fire drills, automatic sprinklers are required in nursing homes, as well as fire doors separating areas of the building.
"These specific doors are set up so that ... you have time to get people out of the building,” Kirkpatrick said.
Hay noted Thunder Bay Fire Rescue expects local retirement homes to submit their fire plans soon — something long-term care homes already do.