For Immediate Release
BURLINGTON, ON. – The Burlington Fire Department recently reported on two separate house fires where ten lives were almost lost. In both cases residents of the homes were able to miraculously escape, even without the benefit of working smoke alarms.
Just after 4:00 a.m. on Wednesday December 31st, 2008, fire crews responded to a report of a structure fire on Victoria Ave. When crews arrived they found seven members of the family huddled in front of the home while smoke poured from the building. In the second fire three teens are lucky to be alive after fire broke out in their home on Isabel Ct. just after 1:00 a.m. on Friday January 16th, 2009. One of the siblings escaped through a second floor window and slid down an overhang. Two others remained trapped in a second floor bedroom and were rescued by firefighters.
Crews found in both incidents that the homes did not have any working smoke alarms. Alarms were installed on the main floors and on the second floors at both homes but the batteries had been removed. A smoke alarm could not be located in the basements of either home.
As the result of investigations and review of both incidents, the Burlington Fire Department has issued tickets to the owners of the homes. Each owner received a ticket for failing to maintain operational smoke alarms in their homes. The tickets have set fines of $235.00.
Burlington Fire Chief Shayne Mintz said “We are extremely fortunate that we were not dealing with multiple fire deaths at these two incidents. The ongoing attempts to educate the public about the need to take responsibility for their own safety appear to be ineffective, not only in Burlington, but across the province.” Chief Mintz went on to say “I am working with our staff to review our current approach to smoke alarm education and enforcement with the intent to convey the message to the residents of Burlington that it is unacceptable to live in a home or apartment that does not have working smoke alarms.”
The Ontario Fire Code mandates that smoke alarms be installed and maintained in all residential dwellings. The smoke alarms must be located near every sleeping area and also on every storey of a home. Residents can be ticketed if they fail to install, fail to maintain, intentionally remove or intentionally disable a smoke alarm in their home. A ticket carries a set fine of $235.00 however officials can choose to lay charges which can result in fines of up to $50,000.00 instead of issuing a ticket.
Currently a Burlington Fire Department policy requires crews to check homes for smoke alarm compliance during most emergency responses. In medical responses crews merely leave a brochure at the home for residents to review at another time. If a residence is found in non compliance a violation notice is issued on the spot with instructions on what the resident must do to bring the home in to compliance. If the resident cannot make corrections prior to the crews’ departure, a re-inspection will be done within a short timeframe to ensure compliance.
Fire Prevention staff review all situations where a violation is discovered and will make a determination if a ticket is to be issued or further action such as charges are to be laid against an owner or property manager.
Fire Prevention Officer