Clarington Fire suiting up to fight smoke alarm apathy

Firefighters are crediting working smoke alarms for helping several people escape a house fire that broke out in East Vancouver Tuesday morning. 

Crews were called to a home near Price and Joyce streets at around 6 a.m., and arrived to find the property fully involved.

Five people were asleep inside when the flames broke out, but Fire Chief Darrell Reid said everyone managed to get outside unharmed.

"Smoke alarms woke up all residents who were then able to exit safely," Reid said on Twitter. "Are your smoke and CO alarms working?"

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CLARINGTON — In the midst of Fire Prevention Week, Clarington Fire and Emergency Services got tough by laying charges after fighting a fire in a home that did not have working smoke alarms.

“I’m very disappointed that, with the Alarm for Life program which has been going on for many years, people still aren’t getting the message,” said Clarington fire Chief Gord Weir. “We will be charging.”

Clarington firefighters responded to a fire in Bowmanville just after 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Four trucks and approximately 16 firefighters arrived at the residence and quickly extinguished a fire that was contained in the dryer. The fire was caused by built-up lint in the dryer.

Fire crews found that the residence did not have working smoke alarms. Under Ontarios fire code, a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are required outside sleeping areas and on every storey of a home.

Weir said charges and a fine will be laid for disregarding the law. Failure to comply with smoke alarm requirements can result in a ticket or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure their rental properties have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. In a rental residence, both the owner and tenant can be charged if there are not working smoke alarms on each level, or if the smoke alarms have been tampered with and the batteries removed.

Alarms should be tested once a month, with batteries changed once a year. Both hard-wired and battery-operated alarms should be replaced every 10 years. With the clocks set to change on Sunday, Nov. 4, take the opportunity to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. Change the batteries if necessary and make sure it is working.

Clarington firefighters will be stepping up their monitoring and sending firefighters to various neighbourhoods  to ensure residents are complying with the law. Weir called the initiative a “wake-up call” in a recent news release.

“Smoke alarms save lives. Protect your family and ensure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. If you have any questions or need help, call the fire department. We will be more than happy to assist,” Weir added. “We don’t want to charge you, but we will if you disregard the law and put yourself and your family in danger.”

Fire chiefs across Durham Region gathered on Oct. 9 to present a unified message on the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, during Fire Prevention Week. Weir said that, surprisingly, only about 50 per cent of homes firefighters visited in Durham Region had working smoke alarms on every level and outside sleeping areas.

“This year so far there have been seven fire-related deaths in buildings without functioning smoke alarms in Durham Region,” Weir said. “Not only is this tragic, it’s preventable.”