Modern Homes burn faster, time to add sprinklers

House fire is on rise.

The fire incidents are prompting firefighters and fire-prevention groups in Canada to push for the installation of sprinkler systems in new homes across the country.

Vince MacKenzie, a director with the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs said, “Fires today move very quickly, they are to be taken seriously. I think the concept that the fire department will come and save you all the time is a myth.”

MacKenzie said fire departments are among those calling for residential sprinklers in new home construction. He hopes it will become legislation or part of municipal bylaws.

Mackenzie said, “Fires today grow more quickly because many furnishings and consumer products are made of plastic and other petroleum products, making them highly flammable.”

Open-concept homes also allow fires to spread faster because there are no walls to slow the flames. In the last 20 years, MacKenzie said he has seen the speed of fires increase dramatically.

The association is advocating for the wider use of residential sprinkler systems, and wants the National Building Code of Canada, which sets out technical provisions for the design and construction of new homes, to reflect that.

This week, a task group assigned by the Canadian Commission on Building and Fire Codes submitted a draft report on the costs and benefits of residential sprinklers. The commission is in the process of updating the National Building Code by 2020, which forms the basis for provincial building codes.

Sprinklers are needed to control modern fast-spreading house fires and to give occupants more time to flee the home, said McKenzie, who is also the fire chief in Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L.

The committees working to revise the National Building Code have not made any final decisions on the changes they want to make. The public will be consulted before those changes are finalized.