Fire Safety – Knowing Your Responsibilities

As a business owner, your fire safety responsibilities are changing.  It is no longer as simple as it’s the building owner’s responsibility to comply with the Ontario Fire Code.  The Barrie Fire and Emergency Services website sums it up perfectly.

“Business owners are responsible for the maintenance of their space and for ensuring the business operates with respect to fire safety. In addition to practicing the three lines of defense against fire — Prevention, Detection, Escape — business owners have specific requirements under the Ontario Fire Code.

The Ontario Fire Code defines “owner” as any person, firm or corporation having control over any portion of the building or property under consideration and includes the person in the building or property. Therefore, whether a business owner owns the building, or simply operates a business within a building, business owners have obligations with respect to fire safety for which they can be held accountable.”

It is important to understand your lease when it comes to the Ontario Fire Code Violations. Fire Safety Plans must reflect these responsibilities.  There needs to be a clear understanding of who’s responsible for fire watches, fire drills, and maintenance of equipment.  Recently, I completed a plan that specifies that the owner does the fire watch however, there was a provision for renovations in the unit where the tenant is responsible for the fire watch.

Having a fire safety plan is the first part; implementation of the fire safety plan is the second part and undoubtedly the most important part.  When there’s a clear understanding of the responsibilities as laid out in the Fire Safety Plan, staff training must be done.  It is important to train supervisor staff so they clearly understand their defined roles and are confident to implement them.

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