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Sarnia cracking down on buildings that flout fire code

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Journal Staff

The Sarnia fire department is about to get tougher on property owners and occupants who breach Ontario’s Fire Code.

Currently, fire inspectors normally write up “inspection reports” on non-compliant properties, and must return repeatedly to ensure fire rules are being followed, Fire Chief Brian Arnold stated in a report to council last week.

But going forward, Sarnia Fire Rescue Services will no longer provide verbal and written warnings to the owners of commercial and institutional buildings, rooming houses, and high rise apartments.

Instead, inspectors will issue “inspection orders” on non-compliance properties, putting the legal onus on the owner to fix the problem or face charges under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

Common problems include improper fire separation in walls and ceilings, unsafe materials, and blocked exits and hallways, Arnold told The Journal.

The enforcement change is expected to increase safety and reduce the city’s liability from fire loss and injury.

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management has been advising municipalities to use the act’s legal clout to reduce fire hazards.

“But we are still willing and able to work with property owners that want to comply with the Ontario Fire Code,” Arnold said.

Meanwhile, Sarnia is also about to create a fire master plan to guide the direction of the department in coming year.

A company called Emergency Management Training Inc. has been hired to develop the plan for $61,000.

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