Halifax’s fire department is having early discussions with Nova Scotia’s Office of the Fire Marshal about potential legislation requiring smoke detectors in every bedroom and on every floor in homes in the province.
The idea was inspired by Ontario’s 2006 law that requires homes “have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas.”
Earlier in the month, a Lower Sackville house fire that began in the basement led to the deaths of three people.
There was one working smoke detector (also known as a smoke alarm) in the home on its first floor.
Deputy Fire Chief Roy Hollett said, by law, at least one smoke detector is required in the hallways connected to bedrooms in homes.
If the decades-old home had been built recently, smoke alarms that turn on if another is triggered would be required in every bedroom and on every floor, as per the building code (generally, older homes abide by older codes).
The department believes that if there had been more detectors in the home, there might have been a different outcome.
“The more smoke detectors you have, the more noise it’s going to make in your house,” said Hollett.
Ideally, the plan is to pursue the potential legislation through the province, but the department is also considering focusing on a municipality-only rule if that’s the only option, he added.
A challenge would be finding a way to enforce something like this, Hollett said.
“It’s a good idea,” District 15 Coun. Steve Craig said in a phone interview. “I’m looking forward to what comes forward.”
Sherry Donovan, CEO of Canadian Home Builders’ Association Nova Scotia, said her organization represents hundreds of home builders in Nova Scotia.
“There’s really no quick and easy answer because there’s always going to be a new homeowner, there’s also going to be someone that may not know what the right answer is, so I think it’s a long process, and I think that the more we educate, the more awareness we create, the better it is for the safety of everyone,” she said regarding the idea.
The hope is that the association gets to be at the table for any decisions regarding any potential legislation, Donovan said.