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Fire Marshal urging Ontario fire departments to enforce zero tolerance approach for smoke alarms

Condo fire safety

TORONTO (November 21, 2006) - In the wake of recent fire tragedies in Ontario, the Fire Marshal of Ontario is urging fire departments throughout the province to adopt a zero tolerance approach when it comes to enforcing Fire Code smoke alarm requirements, effective immediately.

“It's frustrating that homeowners are not taking this law seriously, and recognizing the importance of smoke alarms. People are dying because of this,” said Fire Marshal Bernard Moyle. “I've sent a letter to every Fire Chief in Ontario asking them to enforce a zero-tolerance approach and to prosecute homeowners and landlords who are not in compliance with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements. Enough is enough.”

Since March 2006, 28 fatal fires have occurred where smoke alarm performance has been documented. Of these fires, 12 did not even have a smoke alarm installed. Three had their power sources disconnected and one was too far away from the fire to sound a warning. This is unacceptable to the Fire Marshal and he maintains the numbers reflect the need for Ontario fire departments to take a stronger stance on smoke alarm enforcement.

“It's the homeowner's responsibility to install and maintain smoke alarms in accordance with the law,” continued Moyle. “When are people going to get the message that smoke alarms save lives? Unless they correctly install smoke alarms right after purchasing them, these life-saving devices cannot give occupants those precious seconds they need to escape a fire.”

In March 2006, the Ontario Fire Code was amended to require smoke alarms on every story as well as outside all sleeping areas. Since then, the OFM experienced an outpouring of information from fire departments about people who had safely escaped fires due to working smoke alarms, proving smoke alarms can and do work to save lives.

The amendment to the Fire Code applies to all single family, semi-detached and town homes, whether owner-occupied or rented. For homeowners, tenants and individual landlords, non-compliance with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements can result in a ticket for $235 or a fine of up to $50,000.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with the Fire Marshal, contact:

Carol Gravelle, Office of the Fire Marshal, 416-325-3138
Bev Gilbert, Office of the Fire Marshal, 416-325-3178