Fire Safety & the RTB

For responsible building owners and property managers, the decision to prepare and implement a fire safety plan should be obvious. A fire safety plan is a cost-effective way to dramatically improve the level of life safety for building occupants and to increase the level of property protection by receiving full benefit from the fire protection systems already installed.

From a tenant’s point of view, a building owner or property manager who is taking an active concern for the life safety of building occupants through the promotion of emergency planning is perceived as a competent, responsible building owner or manager.

The Residential Tenancy Branch, through Policy Guideline 1 (Landlord and Tenant Obligations), states that landlords must install and keep smoke alarms in good working condition. Landlords are responsible for regular maintenance of alarms including annual inspection, annual cleaning and alarm testing, and replacing batteries at least once a year (replacement instructions must be followed according the manufacturer’s instructions).

The tenant must not prevent the smoke alarm from working by taking out batteries and leaving them out, or by replacing them with batteries that are dead or the wrong size. For his or her own safety and the safety of others, the tenant must tell the landlord when a smoke alarm needs new batteries, or that the alarm seems to need to be repaired or replaced.

These policies should form the foundation for your fire safety plan and each municipality has its own fire codes and regulations that can vary depending on building age and size. As a landlord and rental housing business owner, you must familiarize yourself with the local regulations that may affect you.