Hawkesbury tragedy renews home safety debate

said Dubuc, adding that it was possible the

the nearby Prescott-Russell Residence,

Under Ontario law, the facility, which

investigation could be completed thisweek.

which does not have sprinklers.

was built in the 1980s and passed a


However, he and Fire Chief Ghislain

The united counties of Prescott-Russell,

Hawkesbury Fire Department inspection

Pigeon stressed that Place Mont-Roc

which own the home for the aged, have

in March, was not required to have such a

The tragedy at Place Mont-Roc in

residents would have to be patient.

committed to installing a sprinkler system

system. It is not clear whether sprinklers

Hawkesbury last Friday gained national

Although the fire was confined to the

at the Cartier Boulevard residence. The

would have saved the lives of the couple

attention and reinforced calls for

third floor, the interior of the building

absence of the devices is one of several


mandatory sprinkler systems inOntario’s

sustained “extensive damage,” said

defects that have prompted the regional

floor of the building, said Jeff Minten of the

retirement homes.


government to begin plans for the

Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office.

The privately-owned Spence Avenue

There is water and smoke damage

replacement of the facility.

However, the deaths have bolstered the

where Marie-Anne Bonin, 84, and her

throughout the building. “We do not want


campaign for obligatory sprinkler systems

husband, Jean-Paul Bonin, 87, died May

people to have expectations that they may

deaths inOntario’s long-term care facilities.

in homes for the aged in the province.

25 did not have a sprinkler system.


Premier DaltonMcGuinty says he wants

Ironically, many of the 87 Place Mont-

This was the first fatal fire in

the fire chief. Dubuc added that there is a

to speed up a review of home for the aged

Roc residents were temporarily housed at

Hawkesbury since 2008.

possibility the building is contaminated.

safety improvements.


Meanwhile, New Democratic Party

with residents present.

M.P.P. Paul Miller renewed calls on the

No way of telling if

Most of the displaced residents have

government to pass legislation requiring

found alternate accommodation.

automatic sprinklers in Ontario’s

sprinklers could have

retirement homes.

“The safety of our seniors

“This is a question of public safety and

protecting ourmost vulnerable seniors. The

and vulnerable citizens in

saved couple: investigators

time for political games and stall tactics is

care and treatment

over. The government needs to act now,”

said Miller. “How many more families will

facilities is of theutmost

lose loved ones before automatic sprinkler

systems are made mandatory in retirement

importance to our

homes?” he asked.


Miller first introduced a bill to mandate

As M.P.P. for Glengarry-Prescott-

sprinklers in retirement homes in 2010.

Russell and on behalf of all residents of

The Hawkesbury tragedy came on the

this riding I would like to offermy deepest

same day that a coroner’s inquest into the

condolences to the family and friends of

2009 deaths of four seniors at an Orillia

the two victims of the Place Mont-Roc

retirement home recommended a

Residence fire in Hawkesbury.

requirement for automatic sprinklers. This


is the fourth inquest in Ontario to make this

and complete recovery to the two fire


fighters who were injured while fighting

“Until mandatory automatic sprinkler

the fire. There is an investigation into the

systems are introduced then we are putting


our seniors at an unacceptable risk.

This past Friday, the Ministry of

Ministers have a responsibility to act and

Community Safety and Correctional


Services received the recommendations

its duty to make public safety its first

from the coroner’s inquest of theMuskoka

priority,” added Miller.

Heights Retirement Home. The Ministry

Miller’s Private Member’s Bill, Fire

is in the process of reviewing the

Protection and PreventionAmendment Act

recommendations. They will provide

(Retrofitting of Retirement Homes with

valuable information that can be used in

Automatic Sprinklers), 2012 would ensure

the technical consultations we have

that all retirement homes are fitted with

Photo Richard Mahoney

launched. The safety of our seniors and



vulnerable citizens in care and treatment

built after 1997 are subject to these

facilities is of the utmost importance to our



Several theories

The consultations will examine annual

Dubuc and Minten said last Saturday

inspections, staff training and additional


retrofit requirements, including

of the fire were being explored.

sprinklers. The first consultation meeting

Dubuc noted that some witnesses said

is scheduled for June 13, 2012.

that they had seen lightning prior to the fire.

We know that we can’t approach this

The investigation includes an inspection

issue thinking that a one size fits all

of the roof to determine if a lightning strike

solution will work across Ontario. For

may have sparked the blaze.

Résidence pour personnes retraitées, Lachute QC

example, the needs of urban versus rural

Such a probe typically looks at weather

residences differ greatly. We also have to

conditions, the electrical system, the

consider factors like the size of the facility,

performance of the building and human

Appartements 1 1/2, 2 1/2 , 3 1/4 , 4 1/2 . Maisonnées, studios avec services. Convalescences. Produits substituts pour personnes plus autonomes, sécurité et service à domicile.

whether it has access to a municipal water


system or is on a well.

“There are several things to examine,”

We want to do this quickly, but we

want to ensure that we do this right and in


a way as to avoid another such tragedy.


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