The provincial government is bringing down the hammer on those who violate fire rules.

In a release from Queen’s Park Monday, government officials made the announcement along with giving more power to firefighters. The amendments will give fire services more options to keep communities safe by increasing their enforcement capabilities.

“Protecting citizens is our government’s most fundamental responsibility,” Sylvia Jones, Ontario’s Solicitor General said. “That’s why our government has taken action to improve fire safety across the province. Ensuring modern and robust fire safety rules protects the lives of citizens, as well as firefighters.”

The amendments include:

  • Extending the time for fire departments to initiate prosecutions to one year after they become aware of an offence
  • Enabling fire departments to recover the costs incurred when they are required to immediately close buildings due to serious fire and life safety risks
  • Increased maximum fines for most offences and the establishment of higher maximum fines for subsequent offenders
  • A requirement to notify building supervisory staff when a firefighters’ elevator is not operational, and to notify the fire department and building occupants when a firefighters’ elevator is not operational for more than 24 hours
  • Requiring industries using hazardous extraction operations to ensure that door release hardware for exits and access to exits, egress aisles, ventilation and fire safety planning are sufficient to protect people and property in the event of a fire or explosion
  • Lifting the Fire Code exemption for low occupancy farm buildings where hazardous extraction is used for cannabis processing so that the Fire Code requirements apply.

The maximum fine for an individual convicted on their first fire offence was increased from a maximum of $20,000 to up to $50,000 and then upwards of $100,000 for repeat offences. Meanwhile, the maximum fine for a corporation was increased to $500,000 for the first offence and up to $1.5 million for all following convictions.

“What it will help us to do is to better enforce the fire prevention act, which is the Ontario Fire Code,” Bancroft Fire Chief Pat Hoover tells My Bancroft Now. “We’d rather take the route and have people to come in line with the fire code on their own, but we do have some people that the only way they will respond is by being charged and taken to court.”

“With the activities that are going on in some of our buildings the only way that we can get results is to take them to court to get them to comply,” he adds.

The changes take place immediately.
With files from Greg Higgins