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Fire Prevention Week 2010

How many of you bought at least one lottery ticket in the last month? Even though the odds of winning are about one in 14 million, Iím guessing thereís a good chance you or someone you know bought one. Now how many of you tested your smoke alarms in the last month? Even though the odds of you having a fire in your home are one in ten, Iím guessing thereís a good chance you or someone you know didnít test the alarms.  Despite the odds, when it comes to fire, itís easy to think it will never happen to us. A recent survey conducted by the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs found that 48% of Canadians feel they have almost no chance of having a fire in their home. But after many years in the fire service, I can tell you that fire happens anywhere, anytime. And fire and smoke spread so fast, you can have just seconds to safely escape with your loved ones. Working smoke alarms provide early warning of fire and give you the extra seconds you and your family need to escape. A recent study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. found that working smoke alarms increase your chances of surviving a home fire by 63%. But people still donít think fire will happen to them. All too often, the fire service in Ontario responds to fires in homes with no working smoke alarms. Thatís why the Russell Fire Department needs to raise the alarm about smoke alarms once again this year. The theme of this yearís Fire Prevention Week, from October 3-9, is Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With.

Following are some of the things you need to consider about smoke alarms to help keep you and your family safe from fire;

Most fire deaths happen at night when everyone is asleep. You can have as little as one minute to escape a fire. If there is no smoke alarm in the proximity of the fire to warn you, it will continue to grow rapidly and spread throughout your home, diminishing the chances of everyone getting out safely.

The Ontario Fire Code requires that all homes have working smoke alarms on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. If you donít have working smoke alarms, the fire department has the power to issue a ticket for $235, or lay charges that could result in a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to a year in jail.

The more smoke alarms you have, the better your odds of survival. The fire service recommends that you also consider installing one inside every bedroom.

Landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining smoke alarms in their rental properties. If they donít, they could be fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to up to a year in jail.

 Homeowners or tenants can be fined for tampering with or disabling a smoke alarm Ė and that includes removing the battery.

Published in The Villager newspaper, October 6, 2010

No part of this article can be reprinted or reproduced in any form without the expressed written consent of The Russell Fire Department's Public Education Division.


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