Firefighters across the province are sounding the alarm and asking the Alberta government to hit pause on a building code change.
The change will allow for the construction of 12-storey buildings using fire-resistant wood material.
“Anytime you add fuel load to any type of building, obviously it adds concern to us, especially during construction,” said Lethbridge Chief Fire Marshal Heath Wright.
“It’s not so much after the building is completed, it’s during construction and with adding that many storeys with open timber, combustible construction concerns us just because of the fuel load.”
Wright points out that fire-resistant materials can still burn, just at a delayed and much slower rate.
Currently, Alberta building codes only allow for wood buildings to be constructed up to a height of six storeys.
Wright says when it comes to construction plans in Lethbridge, the fire department is often brought in during the planning process.
“We actually are consulted by the contractor, so we have a close relationship with contractors to go over the plan,” Wright said.
“We don’t approve it ever..but we definitely go over it.”
Bild Alberta says this building code change is also something the federal government is looking to bring in within a year or so.
“Going through that code process is incredibly extensive, it has to go through the national research council and then it has to go through codes Canada which really involves a diverse group of stakeholders,” said Scott Fash, executive director of Bild Alberta.
The Alberta government says more than a dozen building and fire organizations were consulted on the changes that are expected to be implemented in early April.