Owners who are redeveloping their property may be unaware of their ongoing obligations under Ontario’s Fire Code (O Reg 213/07 under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997). If your redevelopment involves temporarily decommissioning a fire suppression system, like sprinklers, you risk being charged under the Act.
Article 188.8.131.52 of the Code requires sprinkler systems to be maintained in operating condition. If you disconnect the sprinklers, you must either have permission to do so or have made alternative arrangements to reduce the risk of fire.
One such alternative is to retain trained individuals to do a “fire watch.” These individuals will patrol the property regularly ensuring that the proper safety protocols are being followed and that the risk of fire is reduced. If you are going to implement a fire watch, you should contact the local fire department to ensure that you are following adequate protocols for your building and circumstances.
You can also avoid a charge by obtaining permission by way of municipal building permit. However, your permit must specifically authorize the temporary decommissioning of fire suppression systems. A city engineer must have signed-off on the redevelopment, taking into account the effect on fire suppression systems. Where specific approval has been provided for, a party won’t be charged with violating the Code.
Although for new buildings the permit regarding fire suppression systems is not required until after the initial stages of construction, a redevelopment that involves temporarily decommissioning existing fire suppression systems requires a permit addressing fire suppression systems in the first instance.
As of late, enforcers have been toughening-up on obligations to maintain fire suppression and detection systems. The owner is exposed to pretty hefty fines for a violation (maximum of $50,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a corporation). Officers and directors of the owner or building managers may find themselves charged as well when they were aware of the violating activities.