ARTICLE – Montreal Gazette – "Watering down building codes"

Excerpt from article:

« Watering down building codes
By Aaron Derfel, The Gazette March 22, 2014 8:41 AM

MONTREAL — In the aftermath of the L’Isle-Verte fire that killed 32 people in a seniors’ residence two months ago, one thing has come to be viewed by many as a symbol of the little that did go right on that tragic night. It’s the charred, three-storey firewall that rose from the smouldering rubble.

Had that firewall not existed, it’s safe to assume that more elderly occupants of the Résidence du Havre would have perished.

The firewall — erected out of concrete blocks — protected a two-storey addition that was built in 2002. The original 1997 building burned to the ground, while the firewall allowed the frailer, “non-autonomous” residents of the newer wing to escape unharmed.

The self-supporting firewall also made it possible for firefighters to enter the older structure while it was burning without fear of the addition tumbling down on them. And once the fire was extinguished the next day, a forensic team was able to search for human remains while the firewall stood without risk of collapse.

But that firewall has also come to be viewed by some experts as an alarming reminder of how building-code regulations can be watered down as a result of industry lobbying. That’s because under changes to the National Building Code of Canada in 2005 — after the L’Isle-Verte addition was constructed — firewalls no longer have to be made out of concrete or masonry. »

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(Source: Montreal Gazette)

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