Submission title

Montreal fire safety








Frédérik-Xavier Duhamel


A March 2023 fire in a historic Old Montreal building that killed seven people made national headlines and was reported by every news outlet in Montreal. Then Frédérik-Xavier Duhamel of The Globe and Mail discovered that five years earlier the Montreal fire department had secretly placed a moratorium on the kind of inspections that could have prevented those deaths. Duhamel discovered that the building had a history of violations related to evacuation routes, fire alarms, and other safety issues. The story resulted in the mayor immediately calling for an investigation by the city’s comptroller general. Months of additional reporting uncovered other decisions by the fire department to abandon certain building inspections and not uphold safety standards. In August 2023, opposition leaders at city hall ordered the fire department to present inspection results and fire-prevention strategies. The presentation showed that the department had expanded its enforcement activities throughout Montreal after the Globe exposed the existence of the moratorium. The city also announced it would hire dozens more prevention agents to inspect and fine delinquent building owners.