Following inspections, residents of crowded Kingston houses now in compliance: fire officials

One of three houses on Crossfield Ave which were inspected by Kingston Fire and Rescue last summer. Jennifer Basa/Global News

According to Kingston Chief Fire Prevention Officer, five homes owned by an International Company, Realgoal Technology were inspected in the summer of 2019 following a complaint from a resident.

The homes were found to have a number of infractions under the Ontario Fire Code.

Fire investigators determined that 26 people were living in a two-bedroom home at 1100 Crossfield Ave.  Just down the street, more than nine people were living at 1209 Crossfield Ave., while 14 people were living at 1409 Crossfield Ave.

The home at 389 Cooke Cres., meanwhile, was housing 16 people, while the home at 367 Ellesmere Ave. was holding 23.

“We acted quickly to address a number of concerns, and to safeguard the health and safety of occupants, and our first responders,” said Kingston Chief Fire prevention officer Ted Posadowski.

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“It came in as a complaint for one of the residents so we completed a follow-up and found cooking operations with concerns to a propane cylinder in the dwelling unit. So we immediately issued the threat to life.”

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On Monday, a news release sent by Kingston Fire read, “Once safety measures to address immediate concerns were implemented, fire inspectors consulted with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office. Through consultation with this agency, on July 26, KFR issued inspection orders to the owner of the properties.”

While searching the homes, Posadowski told Global News that: “In regards to the inspection orders, it was requesting additional exits, fire separations, fire alarms, systems, exit signs and emergency lighting.”

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In 2019, Kingston Fire and Rescue reported that during inspections, 26 people were found to be residing at 1100 Crossfield Ave. The basement had 18 beds on nine bunk beds, with the main floor of the home holding eight beds.

Posadowski says those living in the basement were relocated.

“We had them post emergency procedures as well as install portable extinguishers on each level.”

After becoming aware of the crowded conditions in one of the residences, Kingston Fire spoke with the owner who then revealed they owned four other homes in Kingston, two of which were also located on Crossfield Avenue. Along with the owner, Kingston fire officials conducted inspections at four other homes, some just down the street.

One of those homes was a three-bedroom which had 14 people living inside.

The orders issued by Kingston Fire and Rescue were appealed to the Fire Safety Commission (FSC), an independent agency which conducts hearings regarding fire safety matters.

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“The FSC held a hearing in November, and on Dec. 23, the FSC released its decision. The decision was amended on Feb. 24, to address requests for clarity from the fire department. Since then, the five properties have been brought into full compliance with the Ontario Fire Code,” according to the Kingston Fire and Rescue news release.

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Though it appears that the same individuals are still living in the home at 1100 Crossfield, Posadowski says they will follow up with these properties only if they receive a new complaint.

He says as of today, the immediate threats have been corrected at all properties.

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Kingston Fire and Rescue says it will continue to investigate when they believe there may be a threat to life, by wearing protective gear and maintaining physical distance.