Toronto Community Housing is contesting the Fire Code violation charge in connection with the fire that resulted in three deaths and 15 injuries at a Scarborough apartment building on February 5th.
An investigation by Toronto Fire Services has uncovered that combustible furniture (two plastic chairs) placed in a hallway contributed to the tragic outcome. This is in violation of section 2.4.2 of the Ontario Fire Code, which states that combustible materials (other than those for which the location, room or space is designed) cannot be permitted to “accumulate in any part of an elevator shaft, ventilation shaft, means of egress, service room or service space.”
Under the Fire Code, any corporation convicted of an offence such as this can face a maximum fine of up to $100,000.
On Wednesday, Toronto Community Housing told reporters it will be fighting the charge. “We believe we were in full compliance with the Fire Code and all fire safety legislation at 1315 Neilson Rd. at the time of the fire,” the interim president and CEO of the social housing agency, Greg Spearn said.
The Neilson Hall Apartments were last inspected on January 22nd and all fire systems, including sprinklers, were found to be in working order. Still, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop commented following the fire that a modern sprinkler system with more sprinklers may have helped to prevent deaths.
As for the violation, THC alleges it placed two plastic armchairs in an alcove off the hallway on the fifth floor of the building at residents’ request.
“Although Toronto Community Housing is defending the charge, we remain steadfastly committed to working collaboratively with Toronto Fire Services to examine our fire safety practices at 1315 Neilson Rd., and all of our buildings,” Spearn said.