King’s finally meets fire code

Over 20 years of deferred fire safety maintenance have been corrected

This story has been updated since initially published.

new King's fire exits
New fire exits on residence buildings at King’s were part of the renovations. Photo: Tari Wilson

The interim facilities director at the University of King’s College can breathe a sigh of relief now that the fire code has been met, following two years of upgrading the institutions’ residences.

Gerald Wilson says King’s has been out of compliance since 1988.

In 2010, the city took the university to court because of fire code violations. King’s was ordered to have all the changes for fire code compliance completed within two years.

Fire safety doors were put in place as well as new fire exits in residences. A new fire exit was built for the Wardroom pub and canteen located in the basement. In addition, residence rooms were given new fire detectors and self-closing doors. The renovations over three years came to a total cost of $657,818.

A consultant from a Dartmouth-based fire protection engineering service checked up on King’s fire code compliance progress every three months.  All of the changes were finished by Sept. 24, and the consultant sent a final report to the Halifax Regional Municipality fire prevention division.

“Well, the good news is that it’s all been completed,” says Jim Fitzpatrick, interim controller for King’s, “The university was found to be in non-compliance with a lot of fire regulations and fire codes, and it needed to be compliant. Simple as that.”

The HRM university fire inspector, Dan Hamer, says, “Really when a fire inspector comes in the problems found should be zero, as the university should be self-governing and maintaining fire codes.”

The years of violation and deferral is what separated King’s from other universities and Hamer says he’ll return in the new year to check that King’s is still in compliance.

“We’ve caught up is the best way to put it and now we have to keep an eye on things,” says Fitzpatrick.

King’s facilities management employees still have projects awaiting renovations that need to meet fire codes. Wilson says the King’s basement theatre, the President’s Lodge and the fire exit from the chapel have yet to be completed. The chapel’s fire exit is a temporary one agreed upon by RICAS Fire Protection Engineering and the fire inspector.

“Money rules,” says Wilson of the limited funds available to make these changes.

Fitzpatrick began working at King’s four months ago and he says the total amount King’s spent making the upgrades over the past two years isn’t readily available.

“It’s obviously been a substantial amount, hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Fitzpatrick.


Update: Nov.30: Story was updated as UNews received the financial breakdown of King's expenditures on fire code renovations.