Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Ongoing Saga of the Fire Alarms

"Bullying consists of the least competent, most aggressive service supplier projecting their incompetence on to the least aggressive most, vulnerable client and winning."
an adaptation of a Tim Field quote

Hours of being forced to listen to fire alarms is a form of bullying by a service supplier, The Landlord and, in this case, The City of Ottawa. Let us put an end to this wholesale bullying!

Hi Everyone!

Today, and possibly again tomorrow we will have these blankety-blank fire alarms ringing again.I spent the morning on the phone listening to complaints and calling around trying to find out why we have been picked to be harassed and annoyed again and so soon after the last time Total Fire Prevention came in here with their checks in January. The bottom line is I get smoke and mirror shows from everyone and no legitimate answers from anyone.

It is a fact that the law says fire alarms must be checked regularly. I have no problem with that law at all. I also think the equipment to keep us secure should be in good and working order. My complaint, and of other tenants here, is not the law that says they must be checked but the manner in which Total Fire Prevention conducts these checks. For those who missed it, the fire alarms ring constantly for upwards of 6 hours. That is, when they check the alarm in my apartment, the entire building is rewarded with hearing alarms both in the halls and in their apartments.And the same is true for all 200+ apartments. That is a lot of fire alarm listening.

On January 26, 2009 I received the following letter from Michael Daigle of the Ottawa Fire Department.

This is not a requirement of the City of Ottawa or Ottawa Fire Services. This is the requirements of Provincial Law. The Ontario Fire Code, the Regulation of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, and available at http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/source/regs/english/2007/elaws_src_regs_r07213_e.htm requires that the fire alarm system meet the requirements of Can/ULC-S536. This requires that the fire alarm system bells to be checked monthly and the fire alarm system to be inspected annually.

SECTION 6.3 FIRE ALARM AND VOICE COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS FOR LIFE SAFETY (1) Except as provided in Sentence (2), a fire alarm system, with or without voice communication capability, shall be inspected and tested in conformance with CAN/ULC-S536, “Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems”.

(2) Despite Clause of CAN/ULC-S536, “Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems”, a UL listed smoke detector sensitivity instrument may be used to conduct annual sensitivity testing of smoke detectors.

(3) A description of the fire alarm system as required in Clause 3.6 of CAN/ULC-S536, “Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems”, shall be kept current and maintained in the building at an approved location.

(4) A record of each device, component and circuit of the fire alarm system that is inspected and tested in accordance with Sentence (1) shall

(a) indicate whether the device, component or circuit is in proper working order, and

(b) be kept in accordance with Article

(5) Where a fire alarm system is monitored to transmit a signal to the fire department, the owner shall record whether all signals from the tests conducted in Sentence (1), or other events, are received by the monitoring station, and records shall be kept in accordance with Article

Thank you for the question.

Michael Daigle
Acting Division Chief - Prevention
Ottawa Fire Services
1445 Carling Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario, K1Z 7L9
(613) 580-2424 ext 29460
Fax (613) 580-2866

I have read this letter and this Act several times. Nowhere, that I can find, does it give anyone the okay to torment, harass,or cause mental distress to anyone, ever. And that, to all those with the smoke and mirrors, is what I am talking about.

A trip to the Law Library would undoubtedly supply me some precedents either criminally or civilly, probably both. Should there not be a precedent, then I feel quite confident that any reasonable man would consider hours of fire alarms screaming in their ears a form of harassment, extreme mental distress and just plain torture of the type we do not allow our services to use against enemies in times of war. It is highly unlikely that our legal leaders would approve of it on home ground in peace times against our own people. Particularly if it turned out to have more to do with some Corporation's bottom line, as is presently my opinion. So far no one anywhere, not Total Fire Protection, not The City of Ottawa, not Ottawa Housing - has told me anything that would lead me to believe anything else. Just their Smoke and Mirrors!

It would behoove the powers-that-be to remember that tenants are people, not numbers in a ledger. Many in this building are senior. Many are physically disabled. Some are mentally disabled. Some work all night and need to sleep during the day. Some are new Canadians and this is definitely not a way to teach new comers how we treat our low income earning people or pensioners or how to be a good citizen. Not even trying to address this problem is nothing short of selfish and would not be happening, I am quite sure, if we were the powers-to-be or their loved ones.

So What Do We Do?

Well, I have already made a bunch of calls. I have also written a letter, a copy of which is on the bulletin board. If it disappears, another copy is easy enough to come up with. The rest of you tenants can get on the phone and complain about being treated like a guinea pig for Total Fire's new equipment or inexperienced staff or what ever their problem is. You could point out that discrimination is against the law in this country and what they are doing to us with these alarms is absolutely not what they would do to tenants in high rental buildings or that they would tolerate being done to any of their own family members. That makes it discriminatory.

You all know the numbers but here they are again:
Total Fire Protection 613- 288-0073
Councillor Peter Hume 613-580-2488
Ottawa Housing Corporation 613-249-0458

Can you write? Send a letter. Keep it civil but firm. Send it to any of the above. Send it to The Citizen's Letters to the Editor column.

Remember that numbers are power so do not avoid calling just because you know someone else called. And Remember, The Squeaky Wheel is the one that gets the oil, so Be a Squeaky Wheel!

Shame on you Total Fire Protection!
Shame on you City of Ottawa!
Shame on you Ottawa Housing Corporation!

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