Growing marijuana at home likely to increase fire risk

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Growing marijuana at home likely to increase fire risk

Halifax's deputy fire chief says the department is looking ahead to the legalization of marijuana and anticipating an increased risk of fires from people growing and smoking pot at home.

Deputy fire chief Roy Hollett told CBC's Information Morning that the department has already dealt with fires that have been caused by illegal growing operations.

"Fortunately we're versed in it, but we're just going to see more of it," he said.

In its review of federal marijuana legislation, the Canadian Senate suggested a number of amendments, including that the federal government grant provinces the authority to ban home cultivation of marijuana. 

On Wednesday, the federal government indicated that it would accept most of the amendments, but was rejecting the change that would give provinces the power to ban growing cannabis at home.

Hollett said that after talking to his peers in jurisdictions like Colorado, where marijuana is legal, he is aware that home cultivation has brought increased risks.   

"Someone's taking a home now and trying to build a modified greenhouse in a bedroom or room that's not built for that," he said.

Hollett said as far as building codes in the HRM are concerned, the municipality has some catching up to do when it comes to addressing marijuana cultivation in homes.

"It's not advanced enough to provide information about what you would require to put a grow-op in a home," he said.

Hollett said that the increased risk comes from several factors:

- compressed carbon dioxide tanks that are used to increase yields

- high-watt light bulbs that may melt nearby wiring

- minor explosions from butane that is sometimes used to extract THC from marijuana

- wiring issues caused by the theft of electricity to power high-watt lights.

Hollett said the department is working with the HRM committee that is developing the municipality's approach to legalization, but that legalization has taken the fire service into uncharted territory.

- N.S. towns and cities struggle to prepare for legal marijuana 

"I still find it interesting that I'm speaking about bongs and joints," he said. "I never thought I would be this in-depth in cannabis grow-ops."