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Increasing Fire Protection in Retirement Homes and Care Facilities

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Increasing Fire Protection in Retirement Homes and Care Facilities

McGuinty Government Seeking Input on Fire Safety Changes

Ministry of the Solicitor General

Ontario is seeking input on proposed changes to the Fire Code and Building Code that will improve fire safety in residences for seniors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable individuals.

The proposed changes are based on expert advice from a Technical Advisory Committee led by the Office of the Fire Marshal. The committee examined long-term fire safety provisions, including enhanced training, inspections and additional retrofits such as sprinklers and self-closing doors. Proposed changes include:

  • A phase-in of mandatory sprinklers for all existing care residences and retirement homes with more than four occupants over the next five years.
  • Annual validation of fire safety plans by local fire services.
  • Enhanced fire inspections and staff training.
  • Fire safety enhancements for all new retirement homes, including mandatory sprinklers.
The government has posted the proposed changes for public comment until Feb. 28, 2013. This is one more way the McGuinty government is working to improve quality of life for Ontario's seniors. This includes passing the Retirement Homes Act that regulates retirement homes and puts in place new measures to protect residents, and the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit that will help more seniors stay in their homes longer.

Quick Facts

  • As of Jan. 1, 2013, all retirement home operators are required by law to have safety plans for residents, including emergency planning in case of fire and other risks.
  • More than 40,000 seniors live in about 700 retirement homes in Ontario. The Technical Advisory Committee also looked at 400 long-term care facilities and 3,000 other homes for vulnerable residents.
  • The Technical Advisory Committee was comprised of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, industry representatives and those involved in the administration of long-term care facilities, retirement homes, and other occupancies for seniors and vulnerable people.
  • The Retirement Home Act requires that information about whether or not a retirement home has a fire sprinkler system is publicly available.
  • By 2017, Ontario will be home to more people over 65 than children under 15 for the first time.

Additional Resources


“Ontario is committed to working with residents, their families and our partners to increase fire safety in facilities that house our most vulnerable citizens. That’s why we have expedited the consultation process to enable the government to finalize a fire safety plan that gives security and peace of mind to residents of care and treatment homes and their families.”

Madeleine Meilleur

Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services

“The proposed phase-in of mandatory sprinklers for all existing care residences along with the other suggested improvements will help Ontario protect some of its most vulnerable residents. I would like to thank the Technical Advisory Committee, as well as the numerous members of the fire service who have been advocating for these changes, for their ongoing dedication to making our province safer.”

Linda Jeffrey

Minister Responsible for Seniors

“Everyone has the right to feel safe from fire where they live, regardless of age, ability or special needs. I applaud the Technical Advisory Committee for its hard work and thoughtful recommendations that have resulted in this next step of the government’s fire safety plan for action.”

Tadeusz (Ted) Wieclawek

Ontario Fire Marshal

“As the provincial association representing 80 per cent of Ontario’s retirement residence units, we know how important safety and peace of mind are for seniors and their families. We are pleased to be a part of this important strategic direction, and we know these recommendations will help seniors, their loved ones, and the entire sector feel safe and secure.”

Laurie Johnston

CEO, Ontario Retirement Communities Association

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