As the jurisdiction responsible for enforcing the Alberta Fire Code and the Safety Codes Act, the City of Lethbridge has charged two people with Fire Code violations related to an illegal secondary suite. In July of 2019, a fatal fire in the south Lethbridge suite took the life of the male tenant and his dog.
"This situation had a tragic outcome and is a serious reminder of the important responsibility all owners have to legalize their secondary suites and ensure life safety measures are in place and in working condition," says City of Lethbridge Chief Fire Marshall, Heath Wright. "Our thoughts go out to the victim's family. This has been devastating for everyone involved. Our hope, in sharing this information, is that more people will understand the seriousness of operating an illegal suite and take the steps needed to ensure their tenants are safe."
The charges involve several serious violations to the Alberta Fire Code including: improper bedroom exit widows, lack of required smoke alarms, no carbon monoxide alarms and lack of proper fire separations for the furnace room. Under the Safety Codes Act, each violation, in the case of a first offence, holds a fine of up to $100,000 and/or 6 months in jail.
Legal Secondary Suites need to be approved by the City's Development Services department and must meet requirements of the Building Code.
The City of Lethbridge has been promoting the importance of these life safety requirement for many years in an effort to bring all suites up to current code. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of each home owner to ensure these standards are met. Between 2009 and 2019 the City provided close to $500,000 in grant funding to give financial assistance to those needing to make upgrades.
"Our number one priority is to keep our community safe," says Wright. "We want to work with owners, landlords, property managers, contractors and local residents to make sure the required life safety standards are in place."
More information on legalizing secondary suites call Lethbridge 311 or visit www.lethbridge.ca/secondarysuites.
For Public Inquiries:
Call 311 | Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.