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Torts - Fire

. Flood v. Boutette

In Flood v. Boutette (Ont CA, 2021) the Court of Appeal makes an interesting point regarding illegal boarding houses:
[1] In Ontario, single-family dwellings require fewer safety protections than boarding, lodging, and rooming houses (collectively, “lodging houses”) because single-family dwellings operate as a single unit whereas the occupants of lodging houses are more autonomous. Owners of single-family dwellings used as lodging houses are therefore required to retrofit their premises in accordance with the regulatory requirements in the Fire Code, O. Reg. 213/07.
. Moore v. 7595611 Canada Corp.

In Moore v. 7595611 Canada Corp. (Ont CA, 2021) the Court of Appeal drew on the distinction between accident and negligence to avoid a provision of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act:
C. Section 76 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act

[9] Second, Mr. Lysenko argues that s. 76 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, S.O. 1997, c. 4, precluded the respondents’ action in this case because it was not proven that the fire started from anything other than an accidental source. Section 76 of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act reads as follows:
No action shall be brought against any person in whose house or building or on whose land any fire accidentally begins, nor shall any recompense be made by that person for any damage suffered thereby; but no agreement between a landlord and tenant is defeated or made void by this Act.
[10] While it is correct that the cause of the fire remained undetermined at trial, there is no need to delve into the inner workings of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act to resolve this ground of appeal because of what the jury found in relation to the appellants’ negligent acts. At a minimum, the genesis of a fire does not immunize a landlord from a failure to take reasonable precautions to protect the occupants of a building from a fire, even if that fire breaks out accidentally.

[11] In this case, the jury found that the appellants were responsible for Alisha’s death for the following reasons: the failure to ensure that a safety plan for the building was prepared, approved, and implemented; the failure to maintain smoke alarms in operating condition; and the failure to provide at least two exits from each “floor area” of the rooming house. Therefore, the jury’s finding of negligence had nothing to do with the source of the fire. Rather, the jury found that because of the appellants’ negligent acts, Alisha was left helpless in the face of a fire, which led to her injuries and eventual death. Therefore, I would not give effect to this ground of appeal.



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