VICTORIA - Fire sprinklers are one of many important fire safety measures. Other fire-safety features include dividing buildings into compartments to limit the spread of fire, fire-alarm systems with smoke detectors, and fire-resistant construction.
Office of the Fire Commissioner
- The Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) is responsible for the application of the Fire Services Act (bclaws.ca) and the administration of the Fire Code in existing construction.
- Fire protection is the responsibility of local government with the Office of the Fire Commissioner providing advice and recommendations to the fire service. The Office of the Fire Commissioner also has the ability to investigate fires, along with collecting and disseminating statistical fire data in support of fire prevention.
- Through a system of local assistants to the fire commissioner, using the Fire Services Act and local bylaws, the local fire authority can inspect for fire hazards and/or order a remedy of the conditions if they have a concern about the fire and life safety of a building, including an older building built before the requirements for sprinkler systems were in place. The Office of the Fire Commissioner performs a similar role in non-municipal areas where required.
BC Building Code and Fire Code
- The BC Building Code regulates the design and construction of buildings. The Fire Code regulates maintenance and operations of buildings.
- The BC Building Code applies to new construction. Existing buildings should conform to the edition of the code in force at the time they were constructed.
- The BC Building and Fire Codes are based on the model National Building and Fire Codes. New editions are adopted approximately every five years.
- Under the 1998 BC Building Code, sprinklers were mandated in all new residential buildings over three storeys, all high-rise buildings over six storeys and all care facilities. These requirements have remained the same through the 2006 and 2012 BC Building Codes.
Generally, under the 2012 BC Building Code:
- Three storeys and under - sprinklers are not required (e.g. housese, townhomes, low-rise residences)
- Four storeys and higher - sprinklers are required (e.g. apartment buildings, condominiums)
- Sprinklers required if more than six storeys
- ALL sprinklered
Care Facilities in B.C.
- In 1996, the Community Care and Assisted Living Act (bclaws.ca) was updated to require all new residential care facilities to have sprinklers.
- All licensed residential care facilities since 1996 have been built with sprinkler systems and most of the older residential care facilities have been retrofitted.
- Today, the majority of both publicly funded and private-pay seniors-care facilities in British Columbia already have sprinkler systems in place.
- Under the BC Fire Code owners are required to take appropriate measures to protect their residents against fire-related incidents, including having an up-to-date Fire Safety Plan.
Did you know?
Inside each sprinkler head is a heat detector. In the event of a fire, only those heads in the immediate vicinity will start spraying water to control the spread of the fire. The Hollywood image of the entire sprinkler system going off when one head is activated is false.
Office of the Fire Commissioner: http://embc.gov.bc.ca/ofc/index.htm
Access the BC Building Code and Fire Codes: http://www.bccodes.ca
Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing