Last week the jury of the Coroner's Inquest looking into the 2009 Muskoka Heights fire released their recommendations. The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) welcomes these recommendations and the improved safety, for the majority of Ontario's most vulnerable residents that will result when they are implemented.
Among them are a number of recommendations related to automatic sprinklers and the retrofitting of automatic sprinklers for Ontario's care occupancies.
This issue is of the utmost importance to the OAFC and is one which we have actively promoted over the last number of years. This marks the fourth Coroner's Jury to recommend automatic sprinklers in care occupancies. We are hopeful that the government will mandate this important improvement as soon as possible and look forward to further expansion of the recommendations into additional occupancies during the vulnerable occupancies Technical Advisory consultation.
In addition the jury has recommended increased flexibility for fire services to issue tickets with regards to fire code violations, increased fines under the Provincial Offences Act for fire safety violations and a recommendation for the Office of the Fire Marshall of Ontario to work with the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs to provide increased assistance to the 462 fire services in the province on these matters.
The OAFC is committed to working with the government, the Office of the Fire Marshall and fire services and their firefighters to implement these recommendations and help immediately improve the safety in Ontario's care occupancies. These facilities are entrusted with the care of the majority of our most vulnerable citizens: our parents, grandparents, and people with special needs. To us, these buildings are institutions. To their residents, they are home.
On behalf of fire chiefs across Ontario, our thoughts remain with the families and friends of those who perished and those who were injured in the Muskoka Heights fire.
The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs represents the chief fire officers of the 462 municipal fire departments in the Province of Ontario. These Chiefs Officers are ultimately responsible, by statute, for the management and delivery of fire, rescue, and emergency response to the 13 million residents of Ontario.
(Kevin R. Foster is president, OAFC director of Fire Services (fire chief) and Emergency)