UBAS Amendments – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

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I was very pleased to read the media release from the Government of Saskatchewan announcing the new Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards (UBAS) regulations for the retroactive installation of battery-operated smoke and CO alarms in existing residential occupancies. These new regulations provide the ability to greatly enhance life safety throughout Saskatchewan.

Note: The National Fire Code already has in place a minimum requirement for the installation of battery-operated smoke alarms in existing dwelling units.

The new UBAS amendments differ in that they require battery-operated smoke alarms to have a 10-year tamper proof battery.  The new amendments also require Carbon Monoxide alarms to have 10-year tamper proof battery.

Note: Currently the National Fire Code does not contain a requirement for the installation of CO alarms in existing buildings.

Let’s Avoid Tragic Consequences

Fire fighters and fire investigators know all too well the tragic consequences of not having smoke and CO alarm protection in residential occupancies.  As a fire inspector I have required the installation of smoke alarms and encouraged the installation of CO alarms in existing residential occupancies for years.  Fortunately, combination smoke/CO alarms have been readily available for several years.  No smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms are two very common fire code deficiencies in residential occupancies that I have encountered as a fire inspector.  It has also been my experience that the use of CO alarms in older residential occupancies is far from prevalent.

Don’t just take it from me, here is a video from Randy Ryba, Fire Marshall at the City of Regina, on the importance of smoke alarms.

Jim Burns, another Villager and the brain behind Burns on Fire, also wrote a post that is worth reading or re-reading.

What We Know

One thing I want to mention before I get into the what I have found out about the new amendments. I think the new regs are a good thing and something positive that Government of Saskatchewan has implemented.  There might be some shortfalls and logistical issues yet to be seen but I am in no way being critical of the Government.

This post is meant to be a conversation started. A fundamental belief of Kilo Lima is that it ‘takes a Village’ to ensure Code compliance, and that includes collaboration between municipal officials, building owners and provincial government. Below is a post describing Kilo’s philosophy on collaboration.

If you agree with the philosophy in the post above, we encourage you to reach out to Building Standards by email ([email protected]) or phone (306-787-4113) and let them know you’d like to see collaboration to improve the overall level of building safety.

Information provided to me from the Saskatchewan Building and Technical Standards Branch

The new amendments to the UBAS regulations for smoke and CO alarms can only be enforced by a building official.

Quote from Government of Saskatchewan website

“Local authorities and their building officials are encouraged to take a passive approach to enforcement. After July 1, 2022, if building officials are present for another reason (e.g., a permit inspection) and notice the building is not in compliance with the new requirement, they could write an order to have the owner to install the missing alarms.”

Information provided to me from the Saskatchewan Building Standards Branch

It is expected that the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency will be enacting similar regulatory amendments to the Fire Safety Regulations prior to July 1st, 2022.

Note: These amendments to in the Fire Safety Regulations will allow fire inspectors and fire chiefs to enforce the new requirements.

Recommendations in terms of how passive or aggressive the enforcement should be, might be stated by the SPSA, but a more likely scenario is it that it will be left to the discretion of the local authority.

Information from Government of Saskatchewan website

Information from Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms in Residential Buildings and Carbon Monoxide Alarms and Smoke Alarms on Building Standards website:

“The Government of Saskatchewan recently amended The Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Regulations to require every building with a residential occupancy to have carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke alarms installed by July 1, 2022, regardless of the initial date of the building’s construction.”

Residential occupancies are rented or owned buildings with sleeping quarters such as:

  • houses
  • duplexes
  • apartments
  • condominiums
  • townhouses
  • care facilities
  • motels and hotels

Building and Technical Standards is updating its building advisories concerning CO alarms and smoke alarms. When completed this fall, the advisories will explain:

  • The amended UBAS Regulations;
  • Describe where alarms should be located as required by the Regulations; and
  • Provide diagrams illustrating common alarm layouts in typical residential buildings.

Want to Dive Deeper?

Great things come when more perspectives are brought into the mix. Here are some potential questions for discussion with your fellow building owners and municipal officials:

  • What do building officials think about these regulations?
  • Will building officials take an active role in enforcement?
  • What do local fire chiefs and fire inspectors think about these regulations?
  • What do local AHJ’s think of the new regulations as they relate to their responsibility to apply and enforce them?
  • What is the liability to an AHJ that fails to enforce these regulations?
  • How practical is it to enforce these regulations on existing non-rental private dwellings?

We would love to hear how these conversations go, or have the conversation with you! Please reach out to Kilo with your thoughts:

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2 Responses

  1. Your questions are good. It is my opinion that building officials, being the ‘enforcers” of the UBASA and regulations in Sasaktchewan must ensure that they have documentation of how we are “passively” enforcing this requirement.

    I required full compliance of the version of the code in force in residential settings if a new bedroom was being developed in a basement or there was an interior renovation for which a permit was applied for. Sadly, there is way too many renovations that go on without permits and end up with many other life-saftey items not being implemented because lack of knowledge when it would be so easy to do the work at that time.

    So….do I now question the homeowner on their smoke and CO alarms in their home when I issue a deck or an accessory budling permit? How far does passive enforcement go?

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