Call for monthly smoke detector checks fires up Regina city council meeting

Home fire safety was at the top of Monday’s council meeting as councillors debated whether it was time to revise the city’s fire bylaw and adopt new guidelines from the provincial Fire Safety Act and the National Fire Code of Canada.

One of the most notable changes being proposed would see landlords be required to test tenant smoke alarms every month instead of every six months as is now required.

“There’s been an update on the building code and the National Fire Code, there’s been an update,” Mayor Michael Fougere said. “So, these are just housekeeping issues to bring them up to speed.”

It’s a change landlords in attendance were strongly against, calling the revision too costly.

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“This proposed change will cost $15 to $25 per unit,” David Todd said, while telling council it would do little to prevent future tragedies.

“Monthly testing of smoke alarms will not save any more lives than testing the alarms every six months,” he said. “The only way to ensure at-risk individuals are safe is to check them daily.”

But many councillors disagreed, saying monthly checks could save lives.

“The unfortunate reality is that there will be a fire in a rental property in the next six months,” Coun. Sean Fraser said.

“No question, they do save lives and it’s been proven and every day, lives are saved because of smoke detectors. I think the responsibility is for all of us to ensure those work,” Coun. Wade Murray added.

The updated bylaw would also see fees worth upwards of $600 imposed on false fire alarm calls.

However, the issue of smoke alarm safety was just too contentious for council to come up with a decision as some councillors like Jerry Flegel said they believed the landlord association wasn’t sufficiently consulted ahead of the vote.

It left council split on whether to adopt the bylaw changes. The matter will now reappear at the next council meeting.

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