The London Inferno
Massive fire engulfs Grenfell Tower in West London. The Fire Killed 12, Injured 74 … ‘Someone is jumping! Someone is jumping!’
By E. Tan
The tragic catastrophe prompted CTV to question the City of Toronto’s officials,
Can A Similar Fire Happen In Toronto?
Before we examine comments from the officials, let’s find out what is causing fire in the first place?
What Caused The Fire?
Apparently, the culprit is CLADDING of the building.
Planning documents revealed cladding was installed so that the tower would be more visually pleasing. Cladding has been found to contribute to similar tower fires around the world, including residential blocks in Dubai, but with significantly less casualties.
Victims of the Grenfall Tower blaze were ‘left to die’ in a building that was a ‘disaster waiting to happen’
Daily Mail reported new plastic rain-proof cladding encasing the building in £10million refurbishment ‘went up like a match‘ and helped fire spread quickly – although the contractor insists it was safe.
Grenfell’s community action group called for the tower to be pulled down four years ago over ‘appalling’ fire safety in the building and said today their repeated warnings to landlord Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) fell on ‘deaf ears‘.
Conclusion: The building is constructed with unsafe building materials. And warnings fell on ‘deaf ears’.
Here is the comments from our fire/building experts: –
Officials says strict building codes and inspections should prevent similar infernos in Toronto
Every high-rise residential building in the province, in accordance with the Ontario Building Code, must be the result of “non-combustible construction,” Pegg said: “It means the actual design and construction of high rise residential buildings are built out of materials that don’t burn.”
“We’re fortunate in Canada, and I know specifically on the West Coast, that we have some of the most progressive and aggressive fire code, building code and fire bylaw legislation that is extremely stringent,” said Jonathan Gormick, public information officer for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.
While I like to think our Building Code is “world class” as reported by Global News Mike Drolet: “Our building and safety codes are amongst the highest in the world, but they’re not perfect.”
However, the Building Code is effective only if it is complied and implemented properly.
What if the Building Code is disregarded?
Here is a classic case whereby Building Code is knowingly and wilfully ignored by the very officials, whose responsibility is to ensure Building Code is adhered to so as to ensure safety for the general public: –
Public Fire Hazards Allowed By City Of Toronto
Illegal Extension – Fire Hazards
– A illegal structure (see photo below) was erected in this residence, which extends all the way to the fence (border) .
– Building Code/City Bylaw dictates any “opening” (door/window) less than 1.2M (4ft) from the border = Fire Hazards.
– Fire protection is a must – the structure is constructed with non-combustible materials (see Fire Chief Pegg’s comment on “Non-Combustible Construction” above).
– The structure violated all safety law of all levels (municipal, provincial, federal).
1. The City is fully aware of the safety hazards, Because,
2. The safety and bylaw violations have been duly investigated and never refuted by all the relevant parties. And,
3. The only question we asked the City is as simple as “Is the structure/extension safe and legal?”.
4. The City chose not to take any action to prevent the safety risks and no reason was ever provided. As a result,
5. The public will continue to face life/injury risks posed by the illegal structure/extension allowed to exist by the City of Toronto. And,
6. There is not even civil action which the public may pursue, as there is no legal entity in existence – because the structure/extension is never approved.
Main dwelling of this particular residence is also erected with at least 13 bylaw violations (or what Toronto Building terms as “Deficiencies”).
What is even more mind-boggling is while the existing illegalities are known to the City, a new garage was permitted to be erected using a carport building permit, also right on the border. This is done in light of the fact that garage and carport are clearly defined under Building Code as different buildings type (therefore requires specific building permit).
The garage is also a Pedestrian Hazards posing life/injury hazards as reversing vehicle from the neightbour’s garage couldn’t see pedestrians on the sidewalk. And Water (from eavestrough) is being discharged to the sidewalk resulting in Slip & Fall Injury Hazards during winter time.
What law has been broken? Dozens of municipal bylaw and all safety related law. Listed hereunder are some of the known/proven offenses (see “LAW VIOLATIONS” below – abbreviated for easy reference. Detailed information will be published in due course).
What did the City do? The City simply do nothing despite all the safety hazards/law violations have been duly and irrefutably proven for years. Neither reason nor remedy was provided.
Here is a similar incident: Toronto bylaws ignored as developer bulldozes historic school – that the City does not respect the very law it wanted everyone else to obey. The difference between this case and our case is that safety hazards are irresponsibly left behind posing danger to the general public, perpetually.
If the safety hazards mentioned above is anything to go by, then it’s really not too far fetched to say London inferno will happen in Toronto in a matter of time.
This is also precisely why I penned “Is replacing OMB with Local Planning Appeal Tribunal a Boon or Bane?” – While I do not disagree with Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro that the proposed reform does sound like a positive plan. However, I wonder if the provincial government has considered what if there is abuse (on the part of the municipality)?
As mentioned in the article, “If my personal experience dealing with City bureaucracy for the past four years is anything to go by, then the City administration has been proven incapable of righting the wrong, particularly if the wrong is perpetuated by senior City staffs.”
Unless and until the City is willing/capable of correcting the wrong, municipal abuse of the system is unfortunately a fact of life for folks of Toronto.
Next – Commentary on Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg’s “comprehensive fire protection and fire safety measures that are contained in the building code will ensure why similar fire (London Inferno) won’t happen in Toronto”.
Including but not limited to,
A. Transportation Services Related Violations
1. Sidewalk Pedestrian Slip & Fall Injury Risks
Unsafe and unlawful drainage of water directly discharged into the sidewalk. The water will freeze up during the colder days, and posing injury risks to the pedestrian and vehicular traffics – Public safety hazard violated numberous safety laws under the purview of Transportation Services, and MLS, and Toronto Building.
2. SIGHTLINE OBSTRUCTION VIOLATIONS
Bylaw Chapter 447, Chapter 743 & Chapter 950 enacted to safeguard pedestrians on the sidewalk as below: –
– § 447-2 C.(1)C.1 – MLS: “One of the fundamental aims is to ensure that sight lines are not obstructed so as to create hazards for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.”
– § 950-200.A.
– § 743-31.A.(1) & (2)
– § 743-34.(2)(a) & 
– § 743-36.I.
– § 743-38.B.
– § 743-43.A.
– § 743-44. D.
– § 743-44B & C.
– § 743-51.A. & B.
– § 743-52.
– APPENDIX A.6. & 21.
B. MLS Related Violations
Main violations – Fire Hazard [Building Code 184.108.40.206.(2)] & Sightline Obstruction (§447, §950 & numberous Zoning Bylaws).
– § 629-12
– § 629-13
– § 629-16.A.(3)
– § 629-18.A., B. & C.
– § 629-27.A. & B.
– § 629-40.A
– § 447
– § 950
– § 629-8. & § 632-2.
– § 629-10.A. & B.
– § 629-23.
– § 629-6.D. & G.
– § 629-4.A.
– § 629-5.A.
– § 629-6.A., D., & G.
– § 629-20
– § 629-11.A.1. (2) & F. (1), (2) & (3)
– § 629-11
– § 629-23.H.
C. Building Code Related Violations
Building Code Act, 1992
– CHAPTER 23 10.(2), (b) & 10.(1)
– Chapter 363 Article V
– Ontario Regulation 332/12
– Chapter 950
– Division C, Part 1, Subsection 1.3.3.
– Application H. iii) & iv)Ontario Building Code Act
– Section 8(2)(a)Building Code: –
– 220.127.116.11. Objectives (1) Category: Safety Number: OS Objective & Category: Safety — Safety in Use Number: OS3 Objective
– 10.5.60.20 (3)(C)(i) & (ii), (6)(B)
Leaside Zoning Bylaw 1916: –
– 6.1.1 (1)
– 6.3.3 Side Yard Setback
– 6.3.3 Rear Yard Setback
– 6.3.3 Side Yard Setback Between Dwellings
E. Breached City of Toronto Code of Conduct for Chief Building Official and Inspectors
– 1. a) & b)
– 2. a), b), c), d) & e)
– 4. a), b), c), d) & e)
– 5. a), b), c), d) & e)
– 8. b)
F. Other Applicable Law Violation
– Section E: Ontario Municipal Board (OMB): No new application applied, no compliance with all currently in-force law.
– Planning Act – PART I, PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION, Provincial interest, Section 2.(h), (o)
– Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) – 3.0 Protecting Public Health and Safety.
– City of Toronto Act, 2001, Chap. Pr13 (Bill Pr20) False Declarations
– No Urban Forestry permission sought to injure a matured tree behind the garage.
– No Zoning Certificate or Preliminary Project Review (PPR) for extended Zoning & Plan Review
– At least 13 illegal building & structural deficiencies
G. Criminal Code of Canada (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)
219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who
(a) in doing anything, or
(b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,
shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.ii) WILFUL AND FORBIDDEN ACTS IN RESPECT OF CERTAIN PROPERTY
429 (1) Every one who causes the occurrence of an event by doing an act or by omitting to do an act that it is his duty to do, knowing that the act or omission will probably cause the occurrence of the event and being reckless whether the event occurs or not, shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Part, wilfully to have caused the occurrence of the event.