Creativity & the NCC

Of course now that we had moved to larger premises, I received visits from many municipal officials. The first was the health inspector. We needed an extra bathroom and three sinks in the kitchen, which we provided. The Fire Regulations inspectors required t an alarm system and an emergency light on the premises. That was the wording in the “Regulations,” with no particular details. So when the inspectors arrived the following week to verify the changes and asked about my alarm system, I hauled a large school bell from under the counter and rang it vigorously. They looked at one another, astonished, for a moment and then murmured slowly, “Well I guess that’s okay. Everybody will hear that.” When asked about the emergency light, I reached again under the counter and produced a large square powerful flashlight. Again the same look of surprise, but they said that’s what the regulation stated: You needed an emergency light, you have it, and it is okay. The fire inspectors had also required a fireproof enclosure for the oil furnace as well as a fire door in the back with “panic hardware.” Luckily for us, the National Capital Commission agreed to pay for it as it was considered a property improvement. A few years later, the fire inspectors came back with new and more explicit regulations, and I had to add a battery operated lighting system which would go on when the electrical system failed. But the warning bell was OK.

On another visit, health inspectors had other issues. When they spotted the Italian espresso making machine they examined it as if they had just seen an alien. “Is this machine safe? Where was it made? Italy, you say? Is it going to blow up in your face? Who approved it?” So I made them a few cappuccinos, which they grateful accepted. One inspector noticed on the side a little Canadian Standards Association (CSA) approved stamp, and then the tone got even better. “Well , if the CSA approved it, it must be alright.” But then as though they were determined to find fault, one inspector queried about the hairy cedar planks on the wall. The hairy cedar planks? What if a small sliver of wood fell off onto a client’s food, does that not cause a hazard? I said that I didn’t think so, after all, we use toothpicks all the time, do we not? He agreed. So we passed the health inspection.

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