Hopefully this will help a bit in giving the guys more time to respond and residents time to get out

EDMONTON — The Alberta government announced long-awaited changes to the provincial fire and building codes Thursday.

“These new building and fire codes will make our homes safer,” said Ray Danyluk, minister of Municipal Affairs. “These changes will buy time for people to get out of their homes and for firefighters to respond.”

After high-intensity fires like the one that destroyed a large part of the MacEwan neighbourhood during the summer of 2007, former Edmonton fire chief Randy Wolsey blamed vinyl siding and inadequate space between houses.

The new Alberta Building Code includes the requirement for fire-resistant material, such as gypsum board, installed under the siding. Also, new homes built close together will be restricted on the size and number of windows that can face their neighbours.

These changes come into effect May 3.

Changes to the Alberta Fire Code include enhanced fire protection plans for construction sites and better access for fire crews to those sites. Those changes come into effect immediately.

“Time is our enemy,” said Chief Ken Block of Edmonton's fire department. “What these changes are going to do is provide a bit more intervention time for our firefighters.

“If you give our firefighters an extra two or three or five minutes, they’re going to stop that fire at the point of origin so it’s going to make a huge difference.”