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Kelowna: Legacy apartments will have sprinklers

The Legacy Apartments fire took off the roof of the building as flames travelled up the vinyl siding and into the rafters unencumbered by fire mitigation devices, like sprinklers or alarms, that might have saved more of the building. - Wade Paterson
The Legacy Apartments fire took off the roof of the building as flames travelled up the vinyl siding and into the rafters unencumbered by fire mitigation devices, like sprinklers or alarms, that might have saved more of the building.
— image credit: Wade Paterson

All the suites in The Legacy, a Rutland condominium building sheared by a balcony fire, will soon have sprinklers covering the deck.

Last summer, Kelowna's fire chief, Jeff Carlisle, made a public plea to the owners of the stratified property, and all existing strata properties considering rebuilds or renovations, to retrofit the building with sprinklers over each balcony on the outside of the structure, particularly if home-barbecues are permitted under the strata corporation's bylaws.

"It makes sense when you see the devastation caused by these kind of fires," said Carlisle in interview this week.

In liaising with the condominium's strata board members, the fire department has learned they took the chief up on his suggestion.

New national regulations ensure all new wood-frame construction must include sprinklers on balconies, but in his report to council on the issue last September, Carlisle noted there are 491 existing wood-frame walk-ups in the City of Kelowna built before the regulation was established.

The Legacy caught fire late afternoon on a Tuesday in July 2013, after a fire in a barbecue got out of control. The flames scaled three floors of the building and rocketed through the roof of the structure in minutes, razing the building and putting homeowners and renters in 62 units out on the street for the next year.

"We've committed to move homeowners in in September," said Corey Makus, MGC president, the construction company handling the renovations and rebuild necessary to make the building viable.

MGC has redone all of the vinyl siding on the building, stripped the fourth floor remnants, framing that floor and reconstructed that floor and roof.

It's their third such renovation and rebuild due to fire; they also handled work on the Barber Terrace fire, on Barber Road, and Fairview of Mission, on Lequime Road. Both took nearly double the time to reconstruct. Makus credits the municipality and insurance company for narrowing the window on the Legacy fire.

The City of Kelowna's building department was able to expedite building permits and the insurance company streamlined the process to ensure residents would be home as soon as possible.

MGC has worked with owners in the building on more than three quarters of the building, upgrading many homeowners' units with new finishing for nominal fees, while doing the necessary finishings.

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