As household items become more combustible, Ottawa firefighters are calling for mandatory sprinkler systems in all new Ottawa residences with support from the city’s protective services committee.
Yesterday, the committee agreed to petition the province to pass a bill authorizing municipalities to require fire sprinkler systems in all new construction including low-rise and single-family dwellings.
According to deputy fire Chief Bruce Montone, the window for individuals to escape from a fire has dropped from 17 minutes in the 1970s to less than three minutes today.
This is mostly due to the changing nature of the contents in homes.
When awoken by a smoke alarm, Montone said most people spend the first two minutes confirming there is a fire and then ensuring everyone else is aware of it.
”If they have an escape plan and still have their wits about them, as the CO (carbon monoxide) levels in the home rapidly increase, they have less than a minute to escape,” he said. “That isn’t happening. Our own statistics show that.”
Since 1995 there have been 46 residential fire fatalities in Ottawa. Of those, 21 homes had working smoke alarms. According to Montone, there has never been a fire fatality in a residential home that had sprinklers.
Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association president Bob Ridley opposed the legislation due to the cost of mandatory sprinklers.
However, Sean Tracey, regional manager of the National Fire Protection Association, argued that since construction materials have decrease 15 per cent in 2008, installing a sprinkler system is not an added burden.