Council considers changes to fire-service bylaws - COBOURG - In Committee of the Whole session this week, Cobourg Council agreed to authorize amendments to bylaws that govern fire services in town.
One rewording allows some leeway to rearrange the fire safety inspection schedule, inserting the phrase “as required and as resources permit.”
Inspection frequency is based on how a building is categorized — institutional (every two years), commercial (every five years), multi-unit residential (every five years) and hotel/motel (annually), for example.
“Those are target goals but, given current resources like staffing and hours — that’s why it’s worded, ‘as resources permit,’” Fire Chief Allen Mann said.
“An inspection might consume a huge amount of hours, which throws the whole schedule out.”
Council learned that schools are classed according to a number of criteria. If there’s an auditorium or gym, they may fall under “assembly.” If there’s a shop, they may fall under “industry.”
While some of these categories call for inspections only every three to five years, Mann said, they do try to conduct school inspections annually — even though technically the fire department has no jurisdiction over provincial property, which schools are.
“We don’t have jurisdiction to apply the Ontario Fire Code, but school boards in general are very co-operative with conforming to Ontario Fire Code standards at the urgence of the province,” Mann said.
“As resources permit, we will continue to maintain that frequency, but recognize we may not be able to depend on what particular inspections we are working on.”
Councillor Stan Frost did not like the subjective terms in a draft open-air burning bylaw, such as “safe distance” and “small” when referring to outdoor fires.
“Those terms need to be hardened up and qualified in the final draft,” he said.
“We have had complaints in the past over the amount of smoke that can be poured into someone else’s house and the issue of sparks and flaming pieces of newspaper that can spread to other properties. It can be an extreme annoyance for neighbours who are not party to the outdoor campfires.
“I am not advocating we don’t allow outdoor burning — some municipalities do prohibit it completely. I prefer to keep Cobourg livable, but in a way that’s safe for all,” Frost said.
While it is not common practice to notify your fire department before a backyard fire, Mann said it is something they ask.
“It tends to eliminate a lot of problems in the event you have a neighbour who maybe you don’t get along with,” he said.
“We do get drawn into neighbourhood disputes, and we try to handle them with great care. If the complaint is legitimate, we certainly want to act on it.”