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The Ontario Fire Code (O.Reg. 388/97) is a regulation made under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act as a companion document to the Ontario Building Code. The Ontario Building Code is the document that provides for safety in new buildings; the Fire Code provides for the maintenance of the life safety systems in existing buildings and the retrofitting of certain occupancies. The Fire Code is enforced by Norfolk County Fire & Rescue Services being the authority having jurisdiction.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the Fire Code was revised to introduce retrofit legislation which required the upgrading of certain buildings to a “reasonable level of life safety” including residential buildings containing two or more dwelling units. Many of these buildings were built prior to 1975 before the Province of Ontario adopted the Ontario Building Code or had construction or renovations without the benefit of permits. Prior to 1975 construction was done under the governance of the National Building Code if adopted by municipalities.  Retrofit will not provide a building with today’s standard of fire protection, but a level of life safety that will be “reasonable”.  It is important to ensure your building complies with this legislation for the safety of residents and to protect you as a building owner from prosecution and other liabilities. The Fire Code clearly states that the owner is responsible for complying with the requirements of the Code.

Complaints to Norfolk County Fire & Rescue Services regarding fire code compliance of certain buildings can come from neighbors or concerned tenants.  Once a complaint is made, Norfolk County Fire is legally obligated to conduct an inspection and ensure that the building complies with the Ontario Fire Code.



2 Responses to What Is Retrofit?

  1. Doug Hunt says:

    How long is retrofit good for, one done in 2005 would be considered ok?

    • Rob McCready says:

      Thank you for your question. There is no real short answer to this question and will depend on alterations or changes that may or may not have been made to any life safety system in the building after a retrofit inspection with or without a building permit.
      Most alterations made under a building permit should be acceptable under part 9 of the Ontario Fire Code. Part 9 Retrofit of the Ontario Fire Code regulates minimum provisions for fire safety in existing buildings.

      “Depending upon the nature and the extent of the alterations required within the building, the owner may also need to obtain a building permit before making the material alterations. This should be discussed with the Chief Fire and Building Officials serving the municipality where the building is located. It is important to understand that when it is necessary to comply with the Retrofit provisions, the required alterations made within the building are not considered to be in contravention of the Building Code.”
      Excerpt from Ontario Fire Marshal commentary.

      Part 9 Retrofit under the Ontario Fire Code deals with but is not limited to the 7 principles of life safety.
      1. Means of egress
      2. Construction
      3. Fire Protection Systems
      4. Fire Detection Systems
      5. Building Services
      6. Interior Finishes
      7. Compartmentation

      If any of these systems have been changed or altered without a building permit since the last fire code inspection, then your building may not meet the minimum requirements of retrofit at this time.
      In all cases of determining whether or not a building still meets the requirements of Part 9 Retrofit of the Ontario Fire Code, please call Norfolk County Fire and Rescue Services. Unfortunately we can not verify over the phone that a building still meets the minimum requirements of Part 9 and a retrofit inspection may need to be scheduled.

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