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Posts Tagged ‘Apartment Safety’

The recent fire at 500 Dawes Road once again raises the issue of adequate fire safety regulations in apartment buildings, especially older buildings that might not meet current City of Toronto building regulations

According to news reports, the fire started in the elevator shaft of the building where the superintendent and a maintenance man were working on the elevators with a soldering gun. There was an explosion and a fire started in the elevator sending plumes of black smoke up to every floor.  This particular building is an older building with no roof hatches to vent the smoke so thick plumes of smoke wend their way through apartment units, windows, hallways and balconies. Some tenants were unable to exit the building quickly and had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Those in the elevator in question received serious injuries and had to be treated in hospital.  Clearly this building needs to be evaluated for fire safety code compliance.

Recently there was also a serious fire occurring on one of the balconies at 165 Barrington Avenue. That fire has been attributed to discarding lighted cigarette butts over balconies. Damage to the balcony in question was extensive and the heavy smoke emanating from that fire inconvenienced tenants on several floors. Fortunately there were no injuries but several tenants who were affected by the smoke seeping into their units and the hallways remain very concerned about this incident.  Tenants in this building frequently complain of finding butts on their balconies. Notices have been posted by management cautioning tenants about discarding lighted cigarette butts over their balconies and also encouraging tenants to forward any information they have about this incident.

Most us in the GTA  recall that massive fire that occurred at a TCHC apartment building on Wellesley Street last year.  Many of the residents were stranded for days and unable to return to their units.  That fire was also attibuted to a lighted cigarette butt that landed on a balcony packed with various items that included combustible materials stored there.  Massive hoarding of all kinds of stuff in apartments and balconies is neither safe nor healthy and has become somewhat of an epidemic nowadays. In addition to being  a serious fire hazard there are unpleasant outcomes from this practice.  Many of the hoarded items are scavenged either from the street or from items discarded at the rear of apartment buildings. These scavenged items often bring unwanted visitors such as bed bugs, cockroaches, and who knows what else, to apartments !  All the excess items that tenants hoard should be stored either in apartment lockers or in a public storage facility.

The fires caused by careless discarding of cigarette butts brings us back to the issue of the rights of  ‘smokers’ versus ‘non-smokers’. (Refer to our post on this issue:  Smoke Free Housing).  This is not only safety issue but also a health issue as it is well-documented that smoking can damage a person’s health.  Cigarette smoke infiltrating through electrical outlets and other crevices in poorly insulated buildings exposes non-smoking tenants to second-hand smoke.  Perhaps it is time reconsider whether or not tenants have a right to smoke in their unit or on their balcony since that activity can compromise both the safety and health of other tenants.

Tenants should take note that the property managers/landlords are required to perform  annual fire safety checks to ensure the building meets the municipal building code. If buildings are up to code and the fire/smoke alarms are operating then tenants are assured that they will be made aware of a fire in a timely manner and can protect themselves accordingly.

For your own benefit and safety it is recommended that  you check out the City of Toronto fire Safety and Fire prevention tips http://www.toronto.ca/fire/prevention/

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On the morning of July 20, 2008,  a massive explosion in the basement electrical room of 22-storey, 2 Secord Avenue and subsequent fire, forced the 900 residents of the apartment building from their homes.

Thick smoke traveled up from the basement, through the elevator shaft and ventilation system, blackening surfaces throughout the building with soot and forcing the immediate evacuation of the residents. Many left the building with only the clothing on their backs.

The 2 Secord tenants spent 40 days living in emergency accomodations: bunking either with family and friends or in hotel rooms provided by the (more…)

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