Fire code violations close downtown Pembroke building, displace seven residents
Seven people have been displaced from their homes after the Pembroke Fire Department made the decision this week to close a building in the city's downtown core.
After completing a general inspection on the building in September 2017, the fire department issued orders to the property owner in regards to violations under the Ontario Fire Code, according to a release issued by Fire Chief Dan Herback Tuesday.
The initial general inspection revealed the building did not have a working fire alarm system or fire separation between the units, which are serious fire code violations, according to the chief.
At the time of the building closure, the initial items requiring attention remained outstanding, in addition to other fire and life safety issues being observed, the release noted.
“The orders on the building did not receive compliance and things actually got worse,” Herback added in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We had to get the people out of that building because it was dangerous to live in those conditions.”
The decision to close the building was done under the authority of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, where an inspector deems it necessary for the immediate protection of persons and property.
The chief stressed that it is the responsibility of landlords to ensure their buildings are up to code in order to ensure the safety of the occupants. Herback also called this an extreme situation, and added the department will take these measures if warranted.
Efforts continue to engage the property owner to ensure required action is taken to allow for occupancy as soon as possible.
“We won't be letting this go until the building is inhabitable,” Herback said.
Through this process, several agencies were consulted in order to ensure the displaced residents could be supported and to ensure alternate housing arrangements could be made. Partner agencies included the Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario Works, Canadian Red Cross, Renfrew County Housing Corporation, and several city departments – operations, building, planning, bylaw enforcement and the office of the chief administrative officer.
“The occupants are the number one priority moving forward,” said Capt. Scott Selle of the Pembroke Fire Department Tuesday afternoon. “The City of Pembroke has looked after the immediate needs of the residents and we are getting the ball rolling to find more long-term residences.”
The Pembroke Fire Department is committed to providing for the safety of city businesses and community members. While it is responsibility of every building owner to ensure their building is in compliance with the Fire Code, in cases where the fire safety issues are serious such that occupants are placed at risk, additional enforcement actions taken under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 are necessary, according to the release.