London high-rise inferno won't happen in Toronto, officials say
Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017 7:41PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 14, 2017 8:52PM EDT
The day following a massive fire that tore through a 24-story building in west London’s North Kensington district, killing a dozen and injuring more than 70 people, Toronto officials say strict building codes and inspections should prevent similar infernos here at home.
“Here in Ontario we are fortunate to have the comprehensive fire protection and fire safety measures that are contained in the building code,” Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg told CP24 on Wednesday evening.
12 killed, 74 injured in London fire
Smoke billowed from the fire that engulfed the high-rise apartment building overnight Wednesday. Recent reports indicate the fire killed 12 people and injured 74 others, also leaving an unknown number missing. Up to 600 people lived in 120 apartments in the Grenfell Tower. The death toll is expected to “sadly increase,” Cmdr. Stuart Cundy told reporters.
While the cause of the blaze hasn’t been determined, the Kensington and Chelsea Council, which oversees the area where the fire occurred, said in a statement the fire will be “fully investigated.”
Residents at Grenfell Tower have reported that the building’s fire alarm didn’t ring and say they have been warning about the risk of fire at the high-rise since 2013.
Can a similar fire happen in Toronto?
Pegg says he has never seen a high-rise apartment building be engulfed the same way in Toronto.
But with Canada’s largest city leading the way for several years now with the most number of high-rises at 257 – ranked number nine in the world, (according to Emporis --a construction data firm that monitors development activity around the globe)city officials aren’t taking any chances.
With the backdrop of the tragedy in London, Mayor John Tory spoke with Toronto fire authorities this morning.
“I met with the fire chief and the deputy fire chief to just see if there was anything based on information is there anything we should learn from what we have seen,” he said.
Toronto has aggressive inspection protocols: Chief
As a result, Pegg says he was able to reassure Tory of the city’s fire prevention and management strategies are up-to-date.
“I was able to explain and reassure Mayor Tory that here in Toronto we are very aggressive with our inspection protocols around multi-units residential and high-rise residential,” he said. We have a very focused and targeted inspection program here in the city.”
The Ontario building code has been in existence since the mid-1970s, Pegg said. The code ensures every high-rise residential building across the province is non-combustible and built with the concept and under the premise of compartmentalization, he added.
For the past two years, Toronto fire has maintained a list and inspected every high-rise apartment building throughout the city.
“We will inspect and we do inspect every high-rise residential building no less than once a year,” Pegg explained, adding this is due to recent city council legislation.
Residents must be familiar with fire safety plan: Ontario Fire Marshal
The Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal -- which is a governmental watchdog, typically called in to investigate a death along with setting provincial fire protocol – released a statement about the blaze.
“The Ontario fire code requires that all high-rise buildings must have a fire safety plan outlining the procedures to be followed in an emergency,” Ontario Fire Marshal investigator Ross Nichols. “These fire safety plans are tailored to reflect the unique design, construction and fire safety features of each building.
“It is important that residents are familiar with the procedures and fire safety plan for their building and that they follow these instructions in an event of a fire.”
Downtown high-rise apartment fire less than 24 hours after London blaze
On Wednesday morning a fire broke out at a high-rise apartment building in downtown Toronto, less than 24 hours after the blaze in London.
It happened at Adelaide and John streets around 7 a.m.
The two-alarm blaze started on a seventh-floor balcony, Capt. Michael Westwood told CP24. No injuries were reported.
But this is the 30th time a high-rise fire has been “caused by carelessly discarding cigarette butts off balconies,” Pegg said. The act resulted in around $500,000 worth of damage.
“We really need people to change their behaviour,” Pegg said.