Halifax seniors' building to get fire-rated cladding

After an investigation by a fire safety expert, the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority is replacing the exterior cladding on a Halifax seniors' high-rise because it isn't fire rated.

Gordon B. Isnor Manor currently has same cladding as type found in deadly Grenfell Tower blaze

The Gordon B. Isnor Manor is a 16-storey building on Cornwallis Street in Halifax. (CBC)

After an investigation by a fire safety expert, the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority is replacing the exterior cladding on a Halifax seniors' high-rise because it isn't fire rated.

This summer, Gordon B. Isnor Manor was found to have the same type of cladding as Grenfell Tower in London, which caught fire June 14, killing 80 people, including young children.

Jamie Vigliarolo, the housing authority's acting general manager, said that even though it's not known how well the material would stand up in a fire, he's assuring tenants the building is safe to live in because of "substantial" differences between the manor and Grenfell Tower.

Safety measures

These include sprinklers in every unit and hallway, non-flammable rock wool insulation and two fire-rated stairwells. As well, since July, a security officer has patrolled the building each hour to monitor the emergency systems.

"The office of the fire marshal has been involved step-by-step through this process and has agreed and confirms with the recommendation of the engineer's report," said Vigliarolo.

The 16-storey building has two fire-rated stairwells. (CBC)

Several residents of Gordon B. Isnor said they felt the aluminum cladding didn't pose a serious fire risk and that the 24/7 monitoring put their minds at ease, but a 67-year old tenant with mobility issues said she would be unable to make it from the 10th floor to the ground floor if a fire broke out.

"I was totally unaware there could be issues," said Monique Dancause, who uses a walker and has lived in the building for the past 3½ years.

"I figured it's a government building, therefore it's a safe building. But obviously I've been proven wrong in that thinking."

The project will go to tender in about a month, said Vigliarolo. It's expected to be complete, with fire-rated cladding, within a year.

About the Author

Allison Devereaux

Allison Devereaux is a freelance radio producer and host in Halifax. Twitter: @allisondev