Carbon Monoxide Detectors, Fire Pits and Blow Lamps Part Of Bylaw Discussion
Admitting to Executive Committee no bylaw is safe from court challenges might not be the best way to sell an updated version of bylaw but it happened on Monday night.
Speaking before Executive Committee Fire Chief Rod Montgomery delivered a highly respectful yet candid presentation on proposed Bylaw 5567 the Fire Bylaw.
The proposed bylaw is necessary due to changes in the National Fire Code as well as local issues identified by the Moose Jaw Fire Department and Administration.
“No bylaw is bullet proof I am not going to sit here and tell you this one isn’t,” Chief Montgomery told Executive Committee.
In explaining the proposed Fire Bylaw he stated it defines and lays out exactly what the Moose Fire Department is.
The proposed Fire Bylaw updates the service and permit fees as well as puts fees on some services which have no fee set on them. The last time the service and permit fees was updated was 1999.
“It's hard for us to collect fees for something not clearly defined,” Chief Montgomery told Executive Committee.
The proposed new fee after three false alarms was focused on.
“It gives us a mechanism to enforce some of these things…on the third (false alarm) we can address it through a fine or fee,” Chief Montgomery stated adding by allowing the infractions to be assessed at the Fire Chief's discretion innocent property owners were less likely to face a fine.
The need to have the ability to assess fines or fees for false alarms was partially due to alarms phoned in by private alarm monitoring firms which were not valid alarms. The Committee was told it was a problem for many fire departments across Western Canada.
Additionally being able to fine or assess fees also may compel those with faulty building alarms to have them repaired to avoid being fined.
Asked after the meeting by MJ Independent if there was a potential of a traffic incident responding to a false alarm Chief Montgomery responded the Department adheres to strict guidelines when responding to all alarms. All alarms responded to are all initially addressed as being real and have the same response.
Pressed on the issue if the lights and sirens responding to a false alarm could lead to incidents Chief Montgomery agreed “the actions of others may lead to an accident” as people and drivers often react differently to lights and sirens.
The Moose Jaw Fire Department has strict guidelines as to the use of its sirens and emergency lights.
Councillor Brian Swanson asked about RMs, area businesses (K + S potash mine) had fallen off due to paying a standard fee.
Chief Montgomery replied Briercrest and the RM of Pense had withdrawn and K + S never had an agreement with the City.
“The approach with the new agreements is people of the RMs and villages pay a fee like the citizens of Moose Jaw...in my opinion the citizens of Moose Jaw were subsidizing the residents of RMs,” Montgomery stated.
The Moose Jaw Fire Department will still respond outside the city to RMs and villages not paying an annual fee but the cost was “significantly higher” if they had to respond.
“They can roll the dice if they like there may be a significant charge outside of that,” Chief Montgomery stated.
Councillor Swanson asked how successful the Fire Department had been at billing insurance companies for their responses through the private firm Firemark.
Chief Montgomery stated the department’s contractor to collect fees was not presently pursuing collection because “a couple of insurance companies challenged there is nothing in our bylaw. (With the new) bylaw there is a way for Firemark to come back and charge.”
One area which drew questioning from the Committee was the new requirement for all homes to have carbon monoxide detectors.
Councillor Brian Swanson commented “according to the bylaw if you don't have a carbon monoxide detector in your home you are in contravention of the bylaw.”
“It speaks to the safety of your citizens,” Chief Montgomery replied adding the Fire Department was not about to enter private homes but it was something important in all properties including rentals.
The proposed bylaw also has a requirement for smoke detectors as well.
“We are not going to go into residential properties. To see if do they have working smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors,” he said, adding smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives because fires and carbon monoxide poisoning is not often detected until it’s too late.
Chief Montgomery said fires for instance start small and can be already well involved inside a structure before detectable.
“Nobody is going to see those flames until they come ripping through the roof (of a home)…that 10 or 20 dollars ( for a smoke detectors) would have made all the difference in the world.”
It needs to be noted under existing codes all new homes require a carbon monoxide detector the proposed bylaw would extend the protection to every home.
Chief Montgomery stated in the end passing the requirements were in the proposed bylaw and completely up to Council to decide but they were there to save lives and protect property.
Councillor Chris Warren stated there had been some feedback from citizens on the proposed bylaw on the false alarms issue but not on other changes such as firepits.
“Firepits are local we wanted to standardize that,” Chief Montgomery replied.
Other local changes also include shrinking the size of hay stacks to half the size allowed under the National Fire Code as well as there will be changes regarding wood piles. Additionally blowlamps will be regulated under the proposed bylaw.
An example of an already local restriction under the existing Fire Bylaw is fireworks are not allowed to be set off in the city without a permit although the National Fire Code allows it.
“I did not see any feedback on all the other changes,” Councillor Warren stated.
In the end Executive Committee voted in favour of moving to a bylaw next Council meeting.