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New building code could impact future Lakeland firefighters

Some firefighters across the province are looking for their voices to be heard when it comes to recent changes in building codes. Last week the province announced that fire-resistant wooden buildings as tall as 12 storeys high would be allowed to be built starting in the Spring.

The Alberta Fire Fighters Association says they have some concerns about structures being built that high, including training firefighters to be able to battle blazes in future buildings. Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority Chief Jay Melvin says the association is disappointed by the lack of consultation with fire crews before the plan was rolled out.

“One concern, first of all, is consultation. Anything that affects the safety of firefighters, I would anticipate that the government would consult with them and especially those that are in key positions.”

The original code allowed for buildings to be constructed only eight-stories high. Melvin says during construction wooden high rises are most at risk for a fire.

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“I’m not sure how much it will affect us here. The majority of buildings here are built non-combustible, steel frame I-beam, more industrial-type shops. Some of our hotels are obviously not at the 12 storey limit, but that’s not to say that in the future there couldn’t be something in our area.”

Melvin says the BRFA works with Planning and Development with both the Town and MD of Bonnyville to provide safety info when new projects come up.

The Alberta Fire Fighters Association says it wants the provincial government to pause on the new rule until a review of the National Building Code is completed at the end of this year.

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