By Jamie Rieger
While Premier Jim Prentice’s announcement of committing $70 million to upgrading sprinkler systems in seniors care facilities may seem like a good idea on paper, many facilities in rural areas do not have the necessary water pressure and would be useless if a fire were to erupt.
“There are a lot of buildings in the province that do not have them because of not enough water pressure,” said Doug Knapik, who works at Pleasant View Lodge, which does not have a sprinkler system in place, but rather fire walls.
“Not only that, but in this area when you get a big freeze, those pipes burst and you have a nightmare,” said Knapik. “There is no question that sprinklers do work, but not where there is not enough pressure, so I do not see it happening here.”
In fact, 455 of 657 seniors facilities do not have sprinkler systems, many of which were built between 1960 and 1990 and before fire sprinklers were made mandatory under fire and safety codes.
The $70 million, under the Ministry of Seniors will go to Housing Management Bodies for upgrades to sprinkler and fire safety systems in older seniors care facilities.