Absence of sprinkler system aided spread of fire

Although the cause of Thursday’s fire that destroyed the Campus Court plaza frequented by students has yet to be determined, evidence to suggest why extensive damage was caused is beginning to surface.

The magnitude of the fire was exacerbated by the lack of a sprinkler system in the complex. Although sprinklers are not mandatory for many buildings according to the Ontario Building Code, Waterloo Fire Rescue is attempting to urge businesses in light of the recent disaster to reevaluate sprinkler implementation.

“The whole plaza did not have sprinkler systems and it wasn’t required at the time that it was built,” said public education officer for Waterloo Fire Rescue John Percy.

Damage caused directly as a result of the fire is estimated to be somewhere around $3 million, though this is expected to rise.

“That’s an approximation,” said Percy. “It’s probably going to go up as they start to go through all the units and…evaluate the losses.”

Waterloo Fire Rescue is urging businesses and landlords to implement sprinkler systems although it is not mandatory. Percy cites last week’s fire as a grave example of the damage that can be done when precautionary measures aren’t taken.

“Our opinion is that if there was a properly installed and working sprinkler system in this building you would have not lost the mass volume of businesses and damage that was there,” said Percy.

“[The fire] would have been contained to one unit and you probably would have had more water damage than anything else.”

The fire broke out on April 22 around 5:30 a.m. and there were no injuries reported despite the extensive damage done to the complex.

“Thank goodness,” said Percy. “We’re very fortunate it happened at the time of day it did because all the businesses were closed, no one was working.”

The property has been released back to the property management firm in charge of the complex although the cause and location of where the fire started has yet to be determined as the investigation is still ongoing.

“The fire marshal’s office did take some samples and those are being submitted to the centre for forensic science as part of the investigation,” explained Percy.