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First Smoke Alarm Fine Issued in Russell

For the first time a smoke alarm violation was issued a $235.00 fine in Russell last week. The necessity of issuing this fine is unfortunate however considering the direction being given to Fire Departments in Ontario by the Fire Marshal’s Office it was warranted. The fine was the result of finding a dwelling without a working smoke alarm during a fire call. The tenant admitted to removing the battery and not replacing it, thus leaving the smoke alarm inoperable. This action is considered to be an offence of the Ontario Fire Code and left the officer in charge no choice but to have a fine issued by the bylaw officers of Russell Township.


There will no doubt be some criticism of the decision to issue a fine, up until now fines have not been a part of what people in Russell expect when dealing with the fire department. The management of our department hopes that this will not be a reoccurring theme however it is felt that a tougher stance must be taken on serious offences. In the incident that occurred last week, the property in question was part of a multi-dwelling unit, just think of the possible consequences to other tenants should a fire occur and there was not early detection by one of the residents. Consider the possible monetary damage to the building owner and the increased dangers to the firefighters having to respond to the call. Not having a working smoke alarm is a serious offence and people must come to understand this. A number of years ago it was commonplace for children to sit in the back seat of a car without a seatbelt, never mind using a carseat. Ask anyone over 40 and they more than likely sat in the rear of a station wagon and rolled around during a summer trip. This sort of behavior is not even considered today, and should a police officer come across a family who was acting in this way the question of a fine being issued would be applauded. However we still find homes without working smoke alarms and people with cavalier attitudes towards meeting the requirements of the fire code. Driving around with your family unbuckled in a car is akin to not having sufficient smoke alarm coverage in the home; everything will be fine as long as nothing goes wrong. However if something does go wrong, the results can be the same; an entire family loosing their lives.


The number of smoke alarm violations are coming down, however there are probably more families acting in compliance with the traffic laws than there are families acting in compliance with the fire code. The police associations dealt with noncompliance of the traffic code by issuing fines and this has been affective in changing people’s habits. Fire departments are now learning that this might be the only way we can get people to change their attitudes about fire safety.

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