People will legally be allowed to grow four cannabis plants at home starting Oct. 17, but B.C. fire chiefs are worried about the lack of legislation surrounding electrical and fire codes. (File photo)

B.C. Fire chiefs concerned over home-grown cannabis and fire hazards

More legislation is needed around electrical, fire codes

Fire Chiefs across B.C. are asking the province for more guidance and legislation surrounding home-grown cannabis plants.

Come Oct. 17, Canadians will be allowed to grow four cannabis plants at home, as long as they are not on public display, but for Victoria Fire Department Chief Paul Bruce, those restrictions aren’t good enough.

“The fire hazards are many with the growing of indoor plants, it’s hard to determine if someone is growing four or 40,” he said. “There are concerns for faulty wiring, overloaded panels … and standard electrical concerns for anyone using more electricity and maybe trying to bypass the meters.”

Bruce also noted environmental concerns for residents’ health, including a dip in air quality and an increase in humidity.

READ MORE: Victoria looking into cannabis lounge options as legalization approaches

Bruce’s concerns aren’t unwarranted; he said he’s seen many cannabis-related fires.

“As a firefighter, I’ve most definitely been to a few different grow-ops,” he said. “One was just a plant in a closet with a lighting system which was overheated and caused a fire, but there’s been a number of different situations.”

At this point, the Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia (FCABC) is asking for more provincial legislation surrounding electrical and fire codes, but also for more power to conduct inspections.

READ MORE: Passenger files claim puppy ate pot on BC Ferries

“As a local government, we do not have the legislative authority to inspect properties for safety compliance,” Bruce said. “We have fire protection bylaws, so when we’re advised of certain things we can knock on doors, but we do not have the ability to go in unless we have a very clear concern for safety.”

The FCABC is hoping the province can grant some more complaint-driven authority to inspect properties, but at this point nothing has been clearly determined.

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