fireA fire in a home for the elderly in L’Isle Verte, Quebec, which was reported at 00:30 on 23rd January, has killed five and another 30 people are missing. The care home had sprinklers in its new wing, which survived the fire and in which nobody was killed. The old wing was not fitted with sprinklers and burned to the ground.

This tragic fire could not more clearly illustrate the value and need for sprinklers in this type of accommodation. In Canada the building fire safety requirements vary by province. Sprinklers have been required in new care homes in Ontario since 1998 and will have to be installed in existing care homes by the end of 2018. They are not required in Quebec. Fire Chiefs and officials are now calling for that to change.

In Quebec Agnès Maltais, the Social Solidarity Minister, who is responsible for building codes said, “If there’s anything whatsoever that needs to be done, if we see any gaps at any level, you can be sure we will tighten the rules.” Elsewhere in Canada in Ontario the Health Minister, Deb Matthews, said that the issue should be looked at again, while in Alberta the Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block and politicians are calling for sprinklers in existing care homes.