NEWS

Iqaluit townhouse not inspected by fire marshal

03/07/2012 08:16 EST | Updated 05/07/2012 05:12 EDT

The Iqaluit housing complex that was the site of a fatal fire last week had never been examined by Nunavut's fire marshal, according to the Department of Community and Government Services.

"It can be confirmed that the Creekside Village has never been on a flagged list of properties under investigation or to be inspected by the Office of the Fire Marshal," said Kathleen Lausman, deputy minister of Community and Government Services.

The City of Iqaluit's building inspector makes sure all new construction in the city is up to code. Older, multi-family homes are the responsibility of Nunavut's Office of the Fire Marshal. The territorial fire inspectors are allowed to look at mechanical rooms and common areas, such as hallways.

It's still not clear what caused the fire nor what safety mechanisms the building had to stop it from spreading.

It's also unclear whether the building should have been inspected. According to Nunavut's Fire Prevention Act, "the fire marshal shall ... from time to time inspect any structure, premises or property."

“It's not under the authority of the fire marshal's office to do regular inspections on residential units,” Lausman said when asked about that section of the act.

Andrew Arreak, one of the many Nunavut Arctic College students who lost their homes in the fire, said he assumed his unit had been inspected before he moved in.

“I was never concerned that much about safety issues, but now that I experienced what happened with the fire I feel that I should be more prepared of any outcome,” he said.

A representative of Nunastar, the company that owns the buildings, sent CBC an email stating: "All of our buildings have received fire safety related upgrades over the years and are subject to annual inspections ... any and all deficiencies or work orders from authorities have always been complied with."

It's unclear what fire safety upgrades were done, or what inspection authorities the company is referring to. Nunastar wouldn't clarify further because the RCMP is still investigating the fire.

MORE:cbcNews