New rules for smoke alarms included in proposed bylaw

The Sun Peaks council is introducing a new bylaw that will allow firefighters to enter premises by any means necessary if an alarm isn’t deactivated after 30 minutes.

The Sun Peaks Fire and Life Safety Bylaw is a comprehensive bylaw that details the mandate and authority given to the Sun Peaks Fire Rescue under the new municipality.

It includes a clause that requires all property owners to provide the number of a contact person who has access to their property in the resort. The contact information is needed so firefighters will know who to call if the building’s alarm goes off.

The bylaw was introduced at the Sept. 7 council meeting and will undergo three readings before it’s passed.

Sun Peaks Fire Chief Bill Stoner said when a fire alarm goes off, it’s their responsibility to make sure there’s no fire in the premises.

“We never want to go to a place, hear an alarm ringing and walk away. We’re going to check it out. What we don’t want to do is break the door down,” he explained.

“What we’d like to know is who we’d call so we don’t break the door down. That’s the idea behind the bylaw.”

Stoner said it’s not a common occurrence, but the team has forcibly entered a house once or twice a year in the past in response to an alarm or after seeing smoke coming out of a house.

Without a bylaw in place, there’s little choice left for firefighters but to force a door open when the smoke alarm does not stop ringing.

“First of all, we’d try to get the door open through any non-forcible means necessary. So if there’s a property management sticker on the window, we’d call the property manager,” said Stoner.

If there’s no one to call, Stoner said they would find ways to enter the house through non-destructive means, such as looking for an open door.
“Worst case scenario, we would have to force the door (open) to ensure that there’s no fire in the house, because we can’t leave the house with an alarm ringing and just assume there’s no fire. That’s really negligence.”

The next council meeting is scheduled on Monday, Oct. 18.

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