New fire bylaw to improve safety in Nanaimo

The city has a new bylaw that is intended to improve fire safety by hitting building owners harder in the pocketbook for fire and life safety issues.

Residents of an apartment building on Beaconsfield Crescent wait outside as Lieut. Ross Angelucci

Residents of an apartment building on Beaconsfield Crescent wait outside as Lieut. Ross Angelucci

The city has a new bylaw that is intended to improve fire safety by hitting building owners harder in the pocketbook for fire and life safety issues.

The Fire Protection and Life Safety Regulation Bylaw No. 7108 was passed by city council last week.

Doug Bell, captain of fire prevention and loss with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, has worked on the new bylaw for the past five years. The previous bylaw, which was established in the early 1990s, was not effective at enforcing B.C. Fire Code regulations, he said.

Changes include moving the Fire Code into the municipal bylaw so the city deals with infractions directly instead of going through the provincial fire commissioner’s office, and new fee and fine structures for non-compliance.

Previously, people could be fined for non-compliance. Now they could face fees for service as well, said Bell.

“Fire departments are doing this across the province,” he said. “The whole purpose of this bylaw is to gain compliance without having to cost the city and the taxpayers a whole bunch of money. The biggest thing is that this is to keep the city safe.”

The department will now charge fees for certain inspections and if fees are not paid, they will be added to the owner’s property taxes.

For example, fire inspectors will now charge people $100 if they have to return for a third inspection of a property that received an order to comply with regulations.

While 95 per cent of businesses fix identified problems after the initial inspection, the remaining ones can take months and repeated visits from inspectors, said Bell.

There are also charges for file searches, special property inspections, fire extinguisher training and multiple false alarms due to lack of repairs or maintenance to fire alarm systems.

“The RCMP have had a false alarm fee-for-service for quite some time,” said Bell. “We have some properties that we go back to 10 times a year.”

In some apartment buildings, false alarms are so frequent, people don’t even get out of bed when the alarm goes off anymore, he added.

Building owners are now required to do fire drills, ensure fire and life safety equipment is serviced properly, and ensure fire doors, egress from structures and storage of flammables are completed to Fire Code requirements or a municipal fine could be imposed.

Fines could also apply to strata corporations that fail to maintain private fire hydrants or post a site plan at the main entry and buildings that don’t have city addresses displayed on each unit.

Fines will start at $200 instead of the $100 charge for fees.

“We’re not going to fight with people,” said Bell. “We have the tools now – you do it or it will cost you.”

The bylaw also enables the fire chief to modify the frequency of inspections in public buildings so that hazardous buildings will receive more and safer buildings less.

The new bylaw can be viewed at www.nanaimo.ca.

Just Posted

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Curl B.C. chairperson Teri Palynchuk is this year’s winner of the Janette Robbins Award for leadership. Palynchuk is pictured here with the Curling Canada Foundation Cup along with past chairperson Peter Muir, left, and Curl B.C. CEO Scott Braley. (Photo courtesy Curl B.C.)
Nanaimo curling exec wins Curl B.C. leadership award

Teri Palynchuk receives Janette Robbins Award

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read