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Residential occupancies

The Building chapter of the Safety Code sets out more binding requirements than the ones in effect at the time of the construction of residential occupancies housing sleeping rooms. Indeed, the occupants could take more time to react and evacuate the premises in case of an emergency if they were asleep.

Summary of the requirements in fire safety

In order to guide you, here is a summary of the main components of fire safety which will henceforth be required, as well as the timeframes to be met. These requirements apply to residential occupancies coming under the new regulation, other than health care occupancies and private seniors’ residences: multiple unit buildings or buildings held in co-ownership, hotels, motels, rooming houses, etc.

Carbon monoxide alarm – to be performed before March 18, 2014

You must install a carbon monoxide alarm if your occupancy features a combustion appliance (among others, a gas range or a fireplace), or if any direct access exists between the house and an indoor parking garage. Select a device which is compliant with standard CAN/CSA-6.19 and is equipped with an integrated alarm; make sure to install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Smoke alarms – work to be performed by March 18, 2014

  • The requirements related to the location of smoke alarms depend on the type of occupancy:

    Rooming house, hotel and motel of 10 rooms and more

    In the case of a rooming house, a hotel or a motel of 10 rooms and more, ensure that a smoke alarm is installed in all sleeping rooms. Ensure also that the alarm is connected to an electrical system, though only if this was required by the standard in effect at the time of the construction.

    Multiple-unit building, building held in co-ownership, hotel or motel

    In the case of a multiple-unit building, a building held in co-ownership, a hotel or a motel, each dwelling unit or suite must be equipped with at least one (1) alarm. It must be installed in the corridor giving access to the rooms, or between the rooms and the rest of the dwelling unit. In the case of 2-storey dwellings, an alarm is required at each storey. The activation of one alarm must automatically activate all the alarms present within this same dwelling unit or suite.
  • Select an alarm type which is compliant with standard CAN/ULC-S531, and make sure to install it on or near the ceiling, in accordance with standard CAN/ULC-S553. This is mandatory under the Regulation.
  • Please note that any smoke alarm must be replaced 10 years from the date of manufacturing as indicated on its casing. If no manufacturing date is indicated, or if it has become illegible, the alarm must be replaced immediately.

Emergency lighting – work to be performed by March 18, 2014

The exit staircases, means of egress and public corridors must be equipped with an emergency lighting system which can be maintained operative for at least 30 minutes during any failure or outage of the electrical system. Be sure to upgrade the emergency lighting system of your building so that it meets the requirements and standards pursuant to the National Building Code (NBC), 1995, as amended for the province of Quebec.

Fire detection and alarm system – work to be performed by March 18, 2016

  • A fire detection and alarm system is required in all residential occupancies where 10 persons and more sleep.
  • If the construction or alteration of your building dates from before November 7, 2000, you may have to upgrade the existing detection and alarm system to be in compliance with most of the requirements from the NBC 1995, as amended for the province of Quebec. Do call upon an expert to make sure you are thorough with this requirement.
  • In all dwelling units or hotel or motel suites comprising several rooms, the acoustic pressure level of the fire alarm signal must be at least 85 dB near the entry door, once the door is closed. In the case of a rooming house, the standard is of 75 dB.

Fire separations – work to be performed by March 18, 2018

The building elements (walls and floors) can limit the propagation of a fire within a building and thus add to the safety of the occupants. As per the new Regulation, it is possible that some work be necessary to improve the level of fire resistance of the walls separating suites (dwellings or rooms) or of the floors of your building. Among others, this work may include the installation of doors, the addition of gypsum board, or the subdivision (compartmentalization) of certain spaces. It is recommended to consult an expert (e.g., an architect) to assess the nature of the work required and to schedule the work needed so that it is completed within 5 years.

Other requirements

The building must be compliant with the standards in effect at the time of its construction and meet the requirements of the National Fire Code.

Furthermore, if your occupancy is equipped with an underground or aboveground multistorey garage, or if it comprises 5 aboveground storeys or more, some other requirements of the Regulation shall apply to it. Make sure you are in compliance with these. Become familiar with these requirements by referring to the pages entitled Maintenance and inspection of façades and Maintenance and inspection of multistorey garages.

The owners must also ensure that they are in compliance with the provisions from the other chapters of the Safety Code: verification and maintenance of elevators [Fr], hoists [Fr], lifts for persons with physical disabilities [Fr], installation of antiflooding devices, etc.

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