Nova Scotia

Seniors home deemed unsafe for 5 residents after fire drill flop

A planned daytime fire drill at The Adelaide in Waverley, N.S., revealed half of the residents would be unable to get out of the building during an emergency without help.  

Fire officials told 5 residents to move from unlicensed facility in Waverley, N.S.

The Adelaide is a seniors care home in Waverley, N.S. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Two people continue to live in "unsafe" conditions at an unlicensed seniors home in Waverley, N.S., after a fire drill revealed half of its residents would be unable to escape the building without help.

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency told five residents of The Adelaide they needed to move out as result of the planned daytime drill on Feb. 20. 

Three of the residents have since found alternate housing, while two remain at the picturesque, Victorian-style home about a 25-minute drive from Halifax.

"Right now they're in an unsafe situation," said Matt Covey, division chief of fire prevention with Halifax Fire.

"I think the issue is, during the event of a fire or emergency, they're unable to get out of the building in the time they need in order to be safe."

The Adelaide describes itself online as a "24-hour assisted senior care home." 

Covey said the residence — which is approved as a bed and breakfast, but operating as a care facility — has been on the fire department's radar for years.

Matt Covey is the division chief of fire prevention with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

He said the department asked the owners in 2016 to start looking at converting the residence to meet the proper building classification for a seniors care facility.

At the time, Covey said there wasn't as great of a concern around a potential evacuation. However, as the residents have gotten older and their conditions have changed or deteriorated, the concern has grown.

"They've [the owners] had plenty of time up to this point. We're now at the point where — especially with the fire drill having taken place — we can't wait any longer," said Covey, who added that there's been open, back-and-forth communication with the owners. 

"We've given them every opportunity to look at modifying their building, they've chosen not to do that, so now we have to go down this route."

Compliance order 

The fire department issued a compliance order to the owners of The Adelaide on March 1 demanding, among other things, that non-ambulatory residents be relocated until the building meets the code requirements for a care facility. The deadline is March 31.

Co-owner Jody Munn of Fredericton declined to be interviewed, but told CBC News people like living at The Adelaide because it feels like a B&B and is homey.

Munn said it's common for aging people to move out when their care needs increase over time.

The home is now only accepting seniors who are able to leave on their own in an emergency, Munn said.

Changes required

Covey said if The Adelaide wants to obtain the proper classification for a care facility, a number of changes would have to take place.

For instance, care facilities are required to have an alarm and a sprinkler system. As well, combustible buildings can only be two storeys, he said.

"This building is three storeys and it's combustible and it doesn't have a sprinkler system," said Covey.  

Fire officials will return April 1 for a followup inspection. According to the order, co-owners could be fined or face imprisonment for not complying.

About the Author

Allison Devereaux is radio producer and host in Ontario. She's been with CBC News for a decade, reporting on arctic oil and gas for CBC North and guest hosting radio shows for CBC Nova Scotia. She can be reached on Twitter @allisondev.

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