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Automatic Sprinkler Systems Now Mandatory in Ontario's Long-Term Care Facilities and Retirement Homes

Automatic sprinkler systems will be mandatory in long-term care facilities and retirement homes in the province.

The new regulations were announced Thursday morning but will not be implemented until January 1, 2014.

Currently only new facilities are required to have automatic systems.

Over one hundred facilities in Kitchener and 12 facilities in Waterloo will be impacted by the new provincial legislation.

Public Education Office with Waterloo Fire Rescue, John Percy tells 570 News that once the new regulations are implemented into the Ontario Fire Code, education for owners, operators and staff at facilities will start.

“There will be a little bit of an education and awareness process for each fire department across the province to work with their facilities to first make them aware of the changes…and then adopting that and then the implementation period will be the next one [step].”

Past President of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs and current Kitchener Fire Chief Tim Beckett tells 570 News the changes have been a few years in the making.

“It’s been a five year process to get it to today , so today’s announcement is a very big step toward improving fire safety right across Ontario.”

The wheels started turning on the new legislation after a fire broke out at Muskoka Heights, a retirement residence, in Orillia, Ontario in 2009, killing four people. The facility did not have an automatic sprinkler system.

Chief Beckett also adds that these changes will ensure that those working in the care facilities are educated in the necessary fire safety areas and to make certain that all care facilities are inspected in a timely manner.

Licensed retirement homes and most private care facilities will have up to five years to install the sprinklers while other facilities will have up to 11 years.