Iqaluit city council looks at tightening up regulations for fire escapes

“Fire is a massive problem here”

By SAMANTHA DAWSON

Iqaluit firefighters respond to a fire earlier this year in the city. Iqaluit's city council now plans to look at going above national standards for fire escapes in all new buildings in the city. (FILE PHOTO)


Iqaluit firefighters respond to a fire earlier this year in the city. Iqaluit’s city council now plans to look at going above national standards for fire escapes in all new buildings in the city. (FILE PHOTO)

Iqaluit city councillors want to ensure new buildings in the city are equipped with fire escapes that go above and beyond national standards.

Speaking during the council’s April 30 meeting, the city’s director of planning and development, Arif Sayani, said fire escapes for all new buildings in Iqaluit must meet national standards, which also call for “adequately-sized windows.”

The National Fire Code of Canada, which sets minimum fire safety requirements for buildings, structures and areas where hazardous materials are used, addresses fire protection and fire prevention in buildings and facilities.

But Coun. Romeyn Stevenson said that the dangers of fire in Iqaluit remain higher than average.

Last year, Nunavut firefighters responded to 157 fires in 2012 that caused $16.8 million dollars in damages, killed six people and injured 20, according to the 2012 Fire Marshall’s report, tabled in the legislative assembly this past March.

Iqaluit suffered the largest losses in Nunavut, including the 2012 Creekside Village fire.

Overall in Iqlauit, 46 fires cost $9.2 million of property losses, the Fire Marshall’s report said.

Stevenson wanted to know if the city council has the option of going “above and beyond” the national code.

That’s because idea of jumping out of the window of a burning house or unit is unsettling — “a terrifying and painful thing in the end,” Stevenson said.

If the city chooses to establish additional fire safety measures, these would become a standard for all new buildings in Iqaluit, he said.

“We need to come up with something for every building… fire is a massive problem here. Development is happening quickly, so that needs to happen quickly too,” he said.

Any building higher than three stories has to have a fire suppression system, Sayani told the council.

Fire suppression systems generally include sprinkler systems.

But going beyond the national code is something that the city’s administration could take on, he said.

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