Deadly nursing home fire raises safety concerns
A deadly fire at a seniors home in Quebec is raising safety concerns at similar facilities across the Maritimes.
Police in Quebec confirmed that three people died in an overnight fire at the Residence du Havre in the town of L'Isle-Verte, around 230 kilometres northeast of Quebec City. Officials say at least 30 others remain unaccounted for.
Mary Walsh has been living at a seniors complex in the Halifax area for over a year. She says she feels safe, despite the tragedy in Quebec.
“Well, we have drills now and then, and we try to look after each other,” says Walsh.
Vincent Bourque says, even if something were to happen at his complex, he feels prepared.
“I feel safe all along. I have no worries about the safety part,” says Bourque.
John Verlinden, corporate director of communications and community engagement at the Northwood seniors complex in Halifax, says the tragic fire in Quebec raises some issues about safety at such facilities.
“Well, it’s definitely a concern for seniors living in a facility like this,” says Verlinden. “They’re older, they have less mobility and they’re more frail.”
Departments of Health across the Maritimes require most seniors homes to have emergency plans in place. They are also required to renew their safety licence each year.
Most buildings are also required to undergo regular inspections by the fire marshal.
“Well, we are very fortunate in Nova Scotia that we have one of the strongest areas of regulations in this area in the whole country,” says seniors advocate Bill VanGorder.
However, VanGorder says there is a big difference between rules being in place and rules being followed.
“If you have a loved one in a facility, check out the facility,” he says. “Find out if they are under those stringent stipulations and make sure the rules are being followed.”
Sprinklers were not fitted throughout the seniors home in Quebec, but in the Maritimes, most seniors homes are required to have sprinklers in each resident’s room and also in each hallway.
With different seniors homes under different regulations across the Maritimes, VanGorder says the tragedy should serve as a reminder for anyone with a loved one in a home to look into the safety measures in place at the facility.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Alyse Hand