Due to the global health emergency, Regina Fire & Protective Services is relaxing the regulations for smoke alarm testing in rental properties to help contain the spread of COVID-19.
Effective immediately smoke alarm testing by landlords, owners or owner agents in rental properties, as per The Regina Fire Bylaw, 2018-49, is suspended until the Saskatchewan Health Authority deems the emergency to be over.
Vacant rental properties must still have their alarms tested as per the six-month frequency.
Any smoke alarm concerns brought to the attention of landlords, owners or owner agents by renters, must be addressed to the best of the landlord’s ability keeping in mind the safety of staff and renters, while ensuring proper health protocols are followed.
A notification will be issued to remind landlords to begin testing again. In addition, any smoke alarm tests which were missed during the relaxation period will need to be completed without delay.
The Regina Fire Bylaw requires smoke alarms to be hard-wired in all rental properties. The smoke alarms must be in operable condition at all times.
If you own a rental property or are an authorized agent for such a property, you must test the smoke alarms every six months, and before a new tenant moves in. You must also keep written records of your smoke alarm tests and any other inspections or maintenance procedures in the format described in the bylaw. All smoke alarms must be installed by a licensed journeyman electrician. An electrical permit must be in place prior to conducting any work.
Minimum Requirements for Smoke Alarms in a Rental Property
If your rental property was constructed and used as a rental property before 2013, and already has a hardwired smoke alarm with battery backup installed outside of every sleeping room within five metres of all sleeping rooms, and if other levels of the property that do not contain sleeping rooms are not protected by hardwired smoke alarms but are equipped with a ten year lithium ion battery smoke alarm, you have met the minimum standards established by the Regina Fire Bylaw. Each owner should make their own assessment as to whether additional smoke alarms above the minimum standards in the bylaw should be installed to fully protect the occupants.
Smoke Alarm Testing Requirements & Responsibility
Owners or authorized agents test all smoke alarms in a rental property every six months and at the commencement of each new tenancy. The owner must also keep of log of the tests that includes the test date, the name of the person conducting the test, the suite address, details on smoke alarms tested, information on what was done if the smoke alarm was not operating and other details listed in the Regina Fire Bylaw. Failure to keep an accurate smoke alarm log may result in prosecution and a possible fine or other penalty.
The six month testing cycle is a minimum standard. It is up to each owner to determine whether more frequent testing is advisable to ensure occupant safety.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements
It’s always recommended you have a carbon monoxide alarm within the residence, however, it is not mandated by Code or Bylaw in buildings constructed before 2005.
Buildings constructed after 2005 require carbon monoxide alarms installed as per the National Building Code as follows:
- The rental property has a solid fuel burning appliance (wood, charcoal, etc.)
- Yes. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within sleeping rooms, and outside each sleeping room within five metres of each door.
- The suite has a fuel burning appliance (natural gas furnace, natural gas water heater etc.)
- Yes. The minimum standard is that carbon monoxide alarms should be installed within sleeping rooms, and outside each sleeping room within five metres of each door. It is up to each owner to determine whether alarms in addition to the minimum standard alarms should be installed to ensure occupant safety.
If there is a service room (contains heating, electrical etc.) in the building that is not part of any suite, or if there is a suite wall or floor/ceiling assembly shared with a storage garage (a room that contains vehicle parking), the minimum standard is that carbon monoxide alarms should be installed either inside sleeping rooms or outside within five metres of each sleeping room door, in every suite that shares a wall or floor /ceiling assembly with the service room and within the service room. It is up to each owner to determine whether alarms in addition to the minimum standard alarms should be installed to ensure occupant safety. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed as per the manufacturer’s directions.
In houses with secondary suites, carbon monoxide alarms are required, by minimum standards, to be wired so that the activation of any carbon monoxide alarm in either the house or the secondary suite causes all carbon monoxide alarms within the house and the secondary suite, including their common spaces, to sound.
Apartment Fire Safety Self Check List
Apartments, condos and any other rental units that may have shared exits must comply with the requirements of the National Fire Code. It’s the responsibility of all property owners, condo boards, property management or other entities tasked with the responsibility of a building to understand these requirements. To help with this process, two documents were created:
- An Inspection Checklist to identify potential deficiencies
- A detailed document explaining Residential Fire Inspection Requirements
The use of these documents will prepare the building for a fire inspection while ensuring the requirements of the National Fire Code are met.
There are minimum size standards for sleeping room windows prescribed by the National Building Code. What minimum standard applies depends on the date the property was constructed or the date the property became a rental property. It is up to each owner to determine whether larger windows are required to ensure occupants can safely exit through the window in the event of an emergency.
If the property was both constructed and used as a rental property prior to October 1, 2009, the minimum standard for windows in any sleeping room is that window be a minimum of .29 M2 (3.7 ft2) in area with no dimension less than 380 mm (15”). An option that would meet the minimum standard would be a window with measurements of 760 mm by 380 mm (30” by 15”). This minimum opening is to be measured when the window is fully opened. There can be no obstructions in this opening. As a result, if the window has a “scissor” style opening mechanism or other hinge system that obstructs the opening, it does not meet the minimum standard.
If the property was constructed or became a rental property after October 1, 2009, the minimum standard is that sleeping room windows must be.35m2 (3.7 ft2) in area with no dimension less than 380 mm (15”). There can be no obstructions in this opening. As a result a “scissor” style opening mechanism, or other hinge system that obstructs the opening, it does not meet the minimum standard.
New window wells are required to have a minimum clearance of 760 mm (30”) from window to edge of window well. Below grade windows installed in sleeping rooms should be designed to swing into the room. If they swing into the window well, the 760 mm (30”) clearance required is from the edge of the opened window.
If your window was installed prior to 2013, and your window well has clearance of 610 mm (24”) from window to edge of window well, you are not required by the National Building Code to meet the 760 mm (30”) minimum standard. If your existing window well was installed prior to 2013, but it does not meet the 610 mm (24”) clearance requirement, the window will need to be brought up to the current code minimum standard of 760 mm (30”) clearance from window to edge of window well.
These standards are minimum standards. It is up to each owner to determine whether larger window wells are required to ensure occupants can safely exit through the window in the event of an emergency.