Home / News / 20 fire safety violations alleged before Vancouver building destroyed by flames: court records

20 fire safety violations alleged before Vancouver building destroyed by flames: court records

Jan 14, 2024Jan 14, 2024

The owners of a Vancouver apartment building that was destroyed by flames are currently involved in court proceedings related to allegations they violated 20 separate fire safety regulations last year, according to records.

Fu Ren and Feng Yan own the building at 414 East 10th Avenue, where 70 tenants were living when the blaze broke out on July 27. The building is now uninhabitable, leaving all of the residents effectively homeless.

Online court records show that Ren and Yan are facing 20 "federal contravention violations tickets" and are next due in court on Aug. 15, to fix a date for trial.

Among the "offences" listed are "activity creating life safety concerns" and allowing for an "accumulation of combustible materials." Other alleged violations relate to failing to have adequate fire alarms or extinguishers on site and blocking fire exits.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

CTV News, On Wednesday, asked one of the landlords, who identified himself as Henry, about allegations the building wasn’t compliant with the fire code.

“When (unit) 302 had the smoke, the alarm was working,” Henry said.

When pressed about the sprinkler system not being activated, he said this is typical for an older building.

Since 1998, sprinklers have been mandated in all new residential buildings over three storeys.

According to B.C.'s Building Code, low-rises with under three storeys do not require a sprinkler system.

"Common sense is if it’s a wood-framed building and that it’s old, maybe at least invest in fire extinguishers,” said Taylor Calhoun, a tenant of the apartment.

CTV News asked Vancouver Fire Rescue many times for an interview and information, and instead, officials deferred us to court documents and suggested we file a freedom of information request.

Tenants have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of their units.

“He lets the building go to disarray. There was mould in the walls, mould in my bathroom and mushrooms on the ceiling in the hallways,” tenant Francois St. Jacques said.

Several tenants told CTV News they’ve also expressed issues with mould, one even accused Henry of painting over the mould.

But Henry said he replaced the ceiling where the mould was.

“We’ve asked the landlord many times to deal with things that have been broken and he wouldn’t do it,” said Cynthia Saddleman, a tenant of 17 years. “The landlord would not come when we needed him.”

Now some tenants are dealing with the landlords being slow to give back damage deposits.

Henry said he has a limit on how much he can e-transfer, adding he is giving cheques instead.

“That’s not right because he can just extend his daily withdrawal,” said St. Jacques. “It’s just an excuse to not pay people.”

Henry said he has given damage deposits to half the tenants so far.