Saskatchewan ends exemptions for smoke and CO alarms in older residential buildings

Sask ends exemptions for smoke and CO alarms

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Saskatchewan landlords and homeowners will have to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in older residential buildings that were previously exempt. Recent amendments to the provincial Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards (UBAS) regulation will be enforced beginning July 1, 2022.

Until now, smoke alarms were not mandated in residential buildings constructed before June 6, 1988 and CO alarms were not required in residential buildings constructed before October 1, 2009. The updates to the UBAS regulation respond to recent statistics from SaskEnergy and the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency citing an average of 1,200 carbon monoxide mishaps annually during the 2018-2020 period and 440 fires in residential buildings during 2020-2021.

“It has been shown that working carbon monoxide and smoke alarm devices save lives,” says Marvin Meickel, chief building official for Saskatchewan. “When implemented, the regulations will establish a minimum level of life safety for people, now and into the future.”

Both types of alarms can be battery operated in most of the older residential buildings that have been newly designated to comply with the regulation, provided the devices are powered with 10-year batteries. The exception is alternative family care homes (allowed in Saskatchewan to house a maximum of 10 occupants) where smoke alarms and CO detectors must be hardwired and interconnected, and the home must have sprinklers.

CO alarms will be required in all single-family homes with fuel-burning appliances and/or attached garages, and must be installed in each bedroom or a common area within five metres of each bedroom door. The same rules apply if there are fuel-burning appliances within the suites of multifamily buildings.

Fewer installations will be required in multifamily buildings where boilers and other fuel-burning equipment are located in central service rooms. In those scenarios, CO alarms are required in all units that share a wall, floor or ceiling assembly with the service room or with an in-building garage. Units adjacent to attics or crawl spaces that share a wall, floor or ceiling assembly with the garage must also have CO alarms. Again, they should be placed in each bedroom or within five metres of each bedroom door.

Further guidance is promised from Saskatchewan’s Building and Technical Standards branch this fall. While many older residential buildings will already have one or both types of alarms even prior to this new mandate, branch officials urge everyone to be vigilant.

“CO alarms, smoke alarms and combination alarms do need to be replaced. Follow the recommended replacement cycle indicated by the manufacturer for your alarm,” they advise. “If you don’t remember how old your alarm is, you should replace it.”

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