Our comments: Toxic smoke in fatal TCH fire came from polyurethane foam; Victims died of smoke inhalation, Toronto Fire says (Feb 24, 2016)

Following the State of California’s watering down of Technical Bulletin 117 in 2013, it was only a matter of time until we heard about another fire with fatalities being blamed on polyurethane foam. In the below CBC news release, it is not revealed whether the PU foam in the chairs was made since TB-117-2013 went into effect (meaning it only had to pass the cigarette smolder test) or if the foam was older and might have contained older generation FR additives which were used to comply with the original Cal-117 (vertical burn and smolder). In either case, it is painfully evident that had newer generation FR technology been used (which is environmentally safe, readily available and economically feasible), this tragedy might have been avoided. In the case of this fire, we may never know since the evidence, and tragically three human lives have gone up in smoke…


CBC News Posted: Feb 24, 2016

Toxic smoke in fatal TCH fire came from polyurethane chairs; Victims died of smoke inhalation, Toronto Fire says
Toronto fire officials say they have pinpointed the source of the smoke that killed three people during a fire earlier this month at a Toronto Community Housing building in Scarborough.

They say the toxic smoke came from two polyurethane chairs that caught fire in a hallway on the fifth floor of the apartment building on Neilson Road near Finch Avenue.

Toronto Fire has charged TCH with having combustible material in a means of egress, a violation of the Ontario Fire Code that comes with a maximum fine of $100,000.

“This charge specifically relates to the polyurethane furniture located in the fifth floor hallway,” Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales said.

Sales said the cause of the fire at 1315 Neilson Road on Feb. 5 is still under investigation. The building is not a seniors residence but it is predominantly occupied by older tenants.

TCH has indicated it plans to fight the charge, which is not criminal, because it says it was in compliance with fire safety standards.

In addition to the fatalities, 15 people were injured. Some residents were forced to jump out of windows to escape the flames.


‘People are responsible for their own actions’

A resident told CBC News smoking in common areas is a problem in the building, and other residents claim cigarettes were the cause of the fire.

But TCH CEO Greg Spearn said the housing agency has a non-smoking policy in its buildings.

“People are responsible for their own actions. It’s very hard to control them but we do our very best,” he said.

When a resident is in violation of the policy, that person will receive a verbal warning, then a written warning. If the behaviour continues, the resident could face eviction.

Toronto Fire Services says it will increase its fire prevention efforts at TCHC buildings, which includes 200 high-rises and 69 seniors residences.

The plan is to re-educate superintendents, staff and residents and to conduct drills and fire safety inspections at all TCHC buildings by the end of this year.



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