The Government of Manitoba is undertaking a major program of installing fire sprinklers in all hospitals and its licensed residential institutions.
More than half the licensed care homes in Manitoba do not have sprinklers. Among hospitals, 27 have full sprinkler systems but 27 only have partial systems, and 22 have none at all.
After the fatal fire at a seniors home in L’Isle-Verte, Quebec in January 2014, Manitoba established a Fire Safety Task Force to look into the situation in its own backyard. The Fire Safety Task Force, which was chaired by the Office of the Fire Commissioner and included fire chiefs, the Manitoba Building Standards Board and industry people, estimated that the cost of implementing all the recommendations would be around $125 million.
The government has accepted all the recommendations, which included requiring sprinklers in new residential care facilities for children and adults and in all existing treatment and care facilities. It also recommended improved training for local authorities and fire inspectors, increased public awareness and more resources for fire protection authorities.
So far the government has committed $70 million over 10 years. A $7-million project is already underway to install sprinklers in five personal care homes and one hospital in 2015-16, and another 18 with other fire and life-safety improvements.
The province is also investing $2 million to work with fire-safety experts to assess all 125 personal care homes and 62 hospitals and to develop a comprehensive inventory of their fire and life-safety systems and a 10-year plan for prioritizing upgrades.
The Office of the Fire Commissioner will take on a further review of fire and life-safety requirements for residential seniors’ homes not licensed as personal care homes or community living facilities. This review is expected to begin in the spring of 2015.
Click here to read the Fire Safety Task Force Report.