Fire Protection and Prevention Act and Fire Code Changes Now in Effect
Amendments to both the Fire Code and the Fire Protection and Prevention Act are now in force across Ontario. In addition to strengthening fire safety, these changes will provide Ontario's fire services with more enforcement options to keep communities safe.
Updates to Ontario's Fire Code
Hazardous Extraction Operations:
- New requirements for buildings containing hazardous extraction operations, including cannabis extraction operations, where flammable liquids, combustible liquids or flammable gases such as butane are used as extraction solvents. These new requirements include developing a fire safety plan as well as specifying acceptable aisles, exits and door hardware.
- Low occupant farm buildings that are typically exempt from the Fire Code are now required to comply for hazardous extraction operations when used in cannabis processing.
- Hazardous extraction operations are now prohibited in below-grade spaces, such as basements and in buildings containing a residential occupancy. This includes but is not limited to homes and apartment buildings.
Firefighters' Elevator Availability:
- Building owners are now required to notify building supervisory staff when a firefighters' elevator is not in operation. They must also put in place a procedure to notify the fire department and building occupants when a firefighters' elevator is not operating for more than 24 hours.
Updates to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act
- Previously, under the Provincial Offences Act, fire services only had six months to initiate prosecutions after the alleged offence occurred. This meant that in cases where an offence was not discovered until long after it had occurred, firefighters had limited tools to hold violators accountable. A new limitation clause in the Fire Protection and Prevention Act gives fire services one year after they become aware of the alleged offence under the act to initiate prosecutions.
Cost recovery for building closure:
- In certain urgent instances, fire services must immediately close a building as a result of significant fire safety risks, with authorization from Ontario's Fire Marshal. Sometimes, there are costs associated with these closures. This could include installing fencing, hiring security or fire watches, and purchasing locks. Fire services are now able to recover these costs from building owners to help ensure they immediately address an unsafe situation.
- The maximum fines under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act have increased for most offences to better align fines with the severity of fire‐related offences in the act. These changes include putting in place higher maximum fines for subsequent offences to make violators of fire safety rules face the consequences of their actions.
- The maximum fine for an individual convicted of an offence has been increased from up to $20,000 to up to $50,000 for a first offence and up to $100,000 for a subsequent offence.
- The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an offence has been increased from up to $100,000 to up to $500,000 for a first offence and up to $1.5 million for a subsequent offence.