Manitoba

Manitoba pledges to install fire sprinklers in all hospitals, care homes by 2025

The Manitoba government is promising to install fire sprinklers in all its hospitals, personal care homes and group homes by 2025, with some of the work already starting this year.

Price tag for installing sprinklers expected to reach $125M, but $70M budgeted so far

Manitoba Labour Minster Erna Braun, left, and Health Minister Sharon Blady speak to reporters about the fire safety task force report on Tuesday in Winnipeg. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The Manitoba government is promising to install fire sprinklers in all its hospitals, personal care homes and group home by 2025, with some of the work already starting this year.

Existing facilities that do not have sprinklers already will be retrofitted, the province announced Tuesday.

The upgrades are recommended in a provincial task force report that was prompted by a fatal fire at a seniors home in L’Isle-Verte, Que., in January 2014.

The sprinklers are expected to cost $125 million, but the government has only budgeted $70 million so far.

Erna Braun, the minister responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner, says the province will find the money in the budget.

Last year, CBC News found that more than half of the licensed personal care homes in Manitoba did not have full sprinkler systems installed. The majority of those homes were in rural communities.

As well, about one-third of hospitals in the province had no sprinkler systems.

Currently, 63 personal care homes in Manitoba have full sprinkler systems, while 25 have partial systems and 37 have none, a provincial government spokesperson said Tuesday.

As for hospitals, 27 have full sprinkler systems, 27 have partial systems and 22 have none.

The task force's report makes six recommendations:

  • Make sprinklers mandatory in new residential care facilities for children and adults.
  • Make sprinklers mandatory in all existing treatment and care facilities.
  • Make additional training available to local authorities.
  • Ensure that local fire inspectors adopt a consistent approach to fire safety inspections.
  • Raise public awareness about the importance of fire safety.
  • Provide additional resources to the Office of the Fire Commissioner and local fire authorities to support fire protection planning, inspections and reporting.

The province says a $7-million project is already underway to install sprinklers in five personal care homes and one hospital this year. Another 18 facilities will get "other fire and life-safety improvements" this year, the government said in a news release.

Last year, CBC News found that more than half of the licensed personal care homes in Manitoba did not have full sprinkler systems installed. The majority of those homes were in rural communities. (CBC)
The province says it will spend another $2 million to have fire safety experts assess all of Manitoba's 125 personal care homes and 62 hospitals to "develop a comprehensive inventory of fire and life-safety systems and a 10-year plan for prioritizing facility upgrades."

The government spokesperson said a full sprinkler system has been installed in a personal care home in Swan River, and plans are in the works for a facility in Flin Flon.

Sprinklers are also being installed at the hospital and personal care home in Eriksdale, at care homes in Birtle and Steinbach, and at the following health-care facilities:

  • Snow Lake Health Centre — Installation of a sprinkler system.
  • Steinbach - Bethesda Hospital — Completion of the sprinkler system.
  • Victoria General Hospital — Phased installation of a sprinkler system.
  • Altona Health Centre — Replacing the dry sprinkler system piping.
  • Shoal Lake Health Centre — Replacing the dry sprinkler system piping.

You can read the fire safety task force's report below. On mobile? Read the report here.

With files from The Canadian Press

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