The Selinger government said today it’s looking at sprinkler retrofits in personal care homes and will create a task force to see if further improvements need to be made in hospitals, personal care homes and other facilities across the province.
The province also said it is dedicating up to $7-million annually for sprinkler and fire safety upgrades in health-care facilities. In addition, a fire safety fund will be created to provide another $2 million to support additional standards and safety reviews, and any other actions to further improve fire safety in personal care homes.
The province’s announcement comes after a Jan. 23 fire at a nursing home in L'Isle-Verte, Que. killing at least 27 people. Five more people are still considered missing.
The province said the fire safety task force will review fire safety in other facilities that house vulnerable people including retirement homes, assisted living and supportive housing, hospitals and group homes.
It will be chaired by staff from the Office of the Fire Commissioner and include representatives from the Manitoba Building Standards Board, the Manitoba Association of Fire Chiefs, front-line fire services, regional health authorities and several provincial departments. Input will also be sought from the Long Term and Continuing Care Association of Manitoba, local certified sprinkler system installers, municipal governments and others.
The task force will also look at a range of fire and life safety activities including fire protection and early warning systems, code enforcement and inspections, education and prevention, and emergency and fire planning. Recommendations from the task force are expected this fall.
Health-care facilities in Manitoba, including personal care homes, were built to the building standards in place when they were constructed. In 1998, the building code changed, requiring new building construction or renovation projects to have sprinkler systems. All personal care homes constructed or renovated since 1998 have full sprinkler systems.
Media reports say more than half of the licensed personal care homes in Manitoba do not have full sprinkler systems installed.