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Vulnerable Occupancies

Providing a fire safe environment to vulnerable residents of single-family homes, care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies or retirement homes, is a priority for Fire Services.

We provide a range of services to ensure vulnerable residents live in a fire safe environment.

 Single family homes - Think Ahead
Think Ahead is a program designed to bridge the gap in home fire safety for families supporting children or adults with special needs and disabilities.

This fire safety program includes a Home visit providing an opportunity for firefighters and families to discuss:

  • Fire prevention strategies

  • Options to make early smoke/fire detection accessible for individuals of all abilities

  • Emergency planning

  • Home escape planning

The home visit also provides an opportunity for families and firefighters to meet face to face in a low-stress environment, potentially reducing anxiety for the individual with special needs in the event of a fire emergency.

If you would like more information about Think Ahead, contact a member of our Public Education team by telephone at 905-623-5126 or by email.

Care occupancies, care and treatment occupancies, and retirement homes
On January 1, 2014, several changes to the Ontario Fire Code (Code) were enacted that affect Vulnerable Occupancies. Vulnerable Occupancies include:

Care and treatment occupancy means an occupancy in which persons receive special care and treatment. (This is typically a hospital or long-term care facility)

Care occupancy means an occupancy in which special care is provided by a facility, directly through its staff or indirectly through another provider, to residents of the facility

(a) Who require special care because of cognitive or physical limitations, and

(b) Who, as a result of those limitations, would be incapable of evacuating the occupancy, if necessary, without the assistance of another person. (Examples could be a retirement home that does not fall under the definition of a Retirement Home or a Group Home)

Residential occupancy means an occupancy in which sleeping accommodation is provided to residents who are not harboured for the purpose of receiving special care or treatment and are not involuntarily detained.

Retirement home means a retirement home regulated under the Retirement Homes Act, 2010, regardless of whether it is a care occupancy or a residential occupancy.

Long Term Care Homes / Homes for Special Care Licensed for more than 10 Residents
As of January 1, 2025 a sprinkler system conforming to NFPA 13, "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems" or NFPA 13R, "Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies" must be installed in the building.

If the building is six storeys in height or less, a sprinkler system may be installed as per the requirements in NFPA 13R.

 Care Occupancies and Retirement Homes
A new retrofit section (Section 9.7) was added to the Ontario Fire Code. Fire safety systems addressed in this section include self-closing devices on sleeping room doors, emergency lighting, fire alarm monitoring, smoke alarms and sprinkler systems. The degree to which these changes will affect each home will vary based on the size of the home and occupancy numbers. An inspector will meet with home owners/operators on an individual basis to discuss the specific requirements that will apply to your building.

In order to ensure the new requirements are applied properly, each group home, retirement home or care facility will be expected to complete an assessment form for each resident. The purpose of this form is to assess the level of care provided to the resident as well as their ability to self-evacuate. Copies of the form will be distributed by Clarington Emergency and Fire Services.

All Care Occupancies, Care and Treatment Occupancies, and Retirement Homes
Changes to fire safety planning will affect all occupancies. As of January 1, 2014:
  • The training of supervisory staff under a fire safety plan must be recorded and retained

  • There must be sufficient supervisory staff to carry out the duties as outlined in fire safety plan

What to expect from Fire Services

Fire Prevention Inspectors will meet regularly with owners/operators to:

  • Ensure obligations under the Ontario Fire Code are met
  • A fire drill must be carried out once a year, for a scenario approved by the Chief Fire Official and representing the lowest staff level complement
  • The Chief Fire Official must be notified within a time period approved by the Chief Fire Official of every drill carried out
  • An inspector must observe the fire drill
  • An inspector must conduct a fire safety inspection

Learn more about the requirements for Care Occupancies, Care and Treatment Occupancies, and Retirement Homes.


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