Read the Fire Inspection Reports

I am not kidding. I now believe that condos have far more fire code violations than I thought possible.

The managers and condo directors are not reading the annual fire and sprinkler inspection reports that the inspection companies send them.

The culprits?
I have identified several:
Uninformed and complacent directors.
The inspection companies that are afraid of losing contracts so they will not say anything. (Not our job to tell the directors, or the owners, that your condo doesn't meet fire code.)
Fire departments should be looking at condos far closer than they do.
Owners don't know that they should ask to examine these reports.
Insurance companies that don't ask for copies to be sent to them.

I was surprised when I first realized that many condo managers and directors do not read the monthly or even the annual Fire Inspection and Sprinkler System Inspection Reports that they pay $4,000 or more a year for.

The company technicians come on site, perform their tests and then leave. Their reports along with the invoices arrive by mail. The invoices are reviewed and paid. The reports, far too often, are put in a file cabinet unread.

What are the directors missing?
At one Mississauga condo, the latest report stated that:

25% of all smoke detectors in the residential suites were either missing, inoperative, had missing or dead batteries or were models that did not meet the new fire code.

a hallway fire alarm did not work.

missing detectors in the elevator shafts.

Two smoke detectors in the common elements were inoperative.
A new director saw the report and started reading it. The other directors seemed stunned to hear what it contained.

The prior year's report, that also wasn't read, stated the same as above but back then, only 15% of the residential smoke detectors did not work.

For one Toronto condo, the fire inspection company sends the annual reports to the management company's head office so no one at the site even sees them let alone worries about them.

At that condo, one-third of the residential units had old smoke detectors, smoke detectors that did not function, no Co detectors or no detectors at all. The common elements had ten fire code deficiencies.

On top of that the technicians found that all the sprinkler heads in the underground garage were badly corroded and had to be replaced.

Do the fire inspection companies check up on deficiencies?
I don't think so. They are paid to do an inspection and write a report and I figure that that is all they think they have to do.

Perhaps they tell the manager what they found but perhaps not. Hard to tell.

Monthly fire extinguisher inspection record

The potential liability
What could go wrong? Say there is a fire in a condo unit and one person gets serious burnt and a half dozen units have fire and smoke damage. Other units are water damaged.

The fire marshal will want to see your fire inspection reports. He'll be impressed to hear that the board never read them. Then the victim's lawyer will want to see these reports. He'll be thrilled to hear about the board's negligence.

The owners will be proud of their manager and directors, don't you think?

What can the residents do?
Check to see if the fire extinguishers in your hallway have been inspected once a month. If not, the condo may not be following the fire code. If the tags are blank, find out why.

It is an excellent idea to make a formal request every year to read the Fire Inspection Reports.

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