Manitoba's $280 million investment for fire safety in LTC homes, healthcare facilities under way

On-going projects include sprinkler installation, alarm repairs and upgrades

Manitoba's $280 million investment for fire safety in LTC homes, healthcare facilities under way

Several projects are currently in progress under Manitoba’s $280-million investment to improve fire safety in personal care homes and healthcare facilities, according to the government.

“These fire and life safety upgrades highlight our government’s commitment to doing all we can to keep all Manitobans and especially vulnerable populations safe from harm – even when undertakings require significant effort and resources,” said Audrey Gordon, minister of health. “We are truly pleased to be making significant progress on this important project.”

Projects currently underway include:

  • sprinkler installations or retrofits at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg and on the Health Sciences Centre (HSC) campus at 735 Notre Dame Ave., the site of the former Women’s Hospital;
  • sprinkler installations at facilities in Arborg, Whitemouth, Carman and Gladstone;
  • fire separations in the Minnedosa Health Centre and Ste. Rose General Hospital; and
  • alarm repairs and upgrades at facilities in Reston, Erickson, Souris, Elkhorn, Deloraine, Virden, Arborg, Fisher Branch, Oakbank, Flin Flon and Winkler, as well as HSC, St. Boniface Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital and Holy Family Home in Winnipeg.

As part of the fire and life-safety project led by Shared Health, all hospitals, personal care homes and health centres in Manitoba will have full or partial sprinkler systems installed over the next six to eight years with work prioritized to facilities that benefit most from upgrades. Full or partial sprinkler systems are now installed in 74 per cent of all health-care and personal care home facilities, even though the pandemic has had an impact on the timing of the project.

Three firefighters were injured in separate incidents in January, according to reports.

In December 2021, Shared Health signed a multi-year agreement with a group of engineering firms to help manage upgrades to ensure an appropriately high level of fire prevention and safety measures are in place at 193 health-care facilities across the province.

The group, collectively known as Project Engineering and Management Services (PEMS), includes SMS Engineering along with other sub-specialty consultants. PEMS is tasked with ensuring work is completed in compliance with provincial standards set by Shared Health and in order of priority following the recommendations of RJ Bartlett Engineering, an independent third-party fire and life safety engineering firm.

The hiring of PEMS follows initiatives that began in 2014, following a tragic fire at a seniors’ residence in L’Isle-Verte, Que.

Linda Johnson has previously written how workers can prevent flammable liquids from igniting and what to do if a fire occurs. Also, Thomas Tenkate – an associate professor and the director of the School of Occupational and Public Health at Ryerson University – discussed chemical hazards in the workplace.

Here are some fire protection measures that employers can implement in the workplace, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS):

  • Make sure fire extinguishers are clearly marked.
  • Make sure fire extinguishers are properly installed.
  • Make sure fire extinguishers are inspected regularly.
  • Make sure smoke and fire alarms are in place.