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Fire Commissioner’s Order enforced after appeal

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Panorama Ridge house had more than 70 beds, including 24 in the attic

Residents were given 24 hours on Dec. 4 to vacate a home at 3322 Panorama Ridge after an inspector from The Fire Commissioner’s Office in Victoria confirmed the building to be in contravention of the Fire Services Act.

According the Whistler Fire Department, the home, which is zoned as a single family dwelling, contained more than 70 beds, including 24 in the attic. Assistant Fire Chief Rob Whitton visited the home for the first time in October to investigate a complaint that people were sleeping in the attic. The fire department returned for another inspection on Nov. 18, and on Nov. 25 issued a Fire Commissioner’s Order for the residence to be returned to a single family home.

The owners of the house, Roland "Rico" Suchy and wife Lisa were given 10 days to appeal the order to the Fire Commissioner’s Office, and filed an appeal last week. On Monday, a representative of the fire commissioner investigated the home as part of the appeals process, and, after finding at least 36 people in the house, ruled against the appeal on Wednesday.

According to Sheila Kirkwood, a Whistler assistant fire chief, the fire department attended the residence with RCMP and announced that paying guests would have 24 hours to vacate the premises.

"We also provided some information for some other short-term accommodations, so we’re not just putting them outside, there are some other options," she said.

And if they don’t comply?

"The RCMP will come back and move them out," said Kirkwood. "It’s sad, but it’s a fire safety issue and we take those sorts of things quite seriously."

In addition, the Whistler Fire Department will make routine checks of the home to ensure that the owners are no longer renting beds. If they defy the order, the Suchys could be charged under the Fire Services Act.

According to the original order, the problem is that the number of people that are living, or could potentially live in the home, is too many for hallways, stairways and exits in the event of a fire.

The fire code stipulates that every room should have two exits, and in the attic there were no windows and just one trap door. In addition, no room should have more than two beds, and the windows in many of these rooms were too small to qualify as secondary exits. One window had bars over it for security reasons.

The extra beds will be removed, because they could provide fuel for a fire if they are left around.

The house was often considered a last resort for employees looking for places to live in the crowded rental market. The house charged $538 a month per person to share a bed, or $680 a month for a single bed.

The Suchys were also in court on Thursday to answer charges for allegedly feeding local bears.

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