May 2013 - Code Compliance

Installation of Smoke Alarms and the Standard…

May 1, 2013

The Ontario Fire Code requires that smoke alarms conforming to CAN/ULC-S531, “Standard for Smoke Alarms”‘ be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the dwelling unit, and where the sleeping areas are served by hallways, the smoke alarms shall be installed in the hallways.  In addition at least one smoke alarm shall be installed on each storey including the basement that does not contain a sleeping area in the dwelling unit.

A smoke alarm, as defined in the CAN/ULC-S531 Standard is a self-contained unit which consists of an assembly of electrical components including a smoke chamber, alarm-sounding appliance, and provision for connection to a power supply source, either by splicing leads, terminals, a cord and plug arrangement, or containing integral batteries.

Home security systems that offer fire and smoke detection do not meet the requirements of the CAN/ULC-S531 “Standard for Smoke Alarms”.  A home that is protected with only a home security system equipped with a fire detector is not in compliance with provincial legislation but more importantly improperly protected.

On March 29, 2013 four family members living in East Gwillimbury ON, tragically perished in a fire where the Office of the Fire Marshal confirmed there was a delay in the detection of the fire.

The delay in the detection of this fire can be attributed to two factors. First, the lack of a smoke alarm on the main floor, and two, while there was a security/fire detection system in the home that provided coverage for the second storey and basement; this system’s wiring ran through the main floor laundry area where the fire originated.

The Office of the Fire Marshal established this wiring was compromised early in the fire and this would have rendered the entire security/fire detection system inoperable.