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Door to Door Inspections
Published: 5/25/2011  
Author: RFD Public Education Division

If you live in the Tweed / MacDougall area you will likely have one of our firefighters visit you in the next two weeks asking some questions about fire safety and inspecting your smoke alarms. Every spring we target an area within Russell for door to door inspections, the goal of this program is to find out how well protected the homes of Russell are, and to get a sense of the publicís attitude towards fire safety. The results of these surveys heavily influence how we direct our efforts with regards to public education. An example of this is the first question we ask when visiting a home; Are you aware of the laws concerning smoke alarms? In March of 2006, the law changed requiring homes to have a smoke alarm on every level and outside all sleeping areas, prior to this the law only required one smoke alarm be present in the home. We have found a steady increase in the knowledge of this law over the past few years, this is telling us that he message is being well received. If our statistics did not show that the public was informed on this topic a more concerted effort would be made to get the message out. The same applies to the questions concerning home escape planning; unfortunately we are not yet experiencing the same success on this matter. The primary goal of the inspection program is to ensure that the residents of Russell are adequately protected with proper smoke alarm coverage. Often we find homes that comply with the letter of the law, but improvements can be made. Problems range from the smoke alarms being too old or poor placement, in these cases we make suggestions and hope that the family will take our advice. In other cases we find homes not complying with the law, the most common problem being a smoke alarm missing on one level of the home. For minor infractions like this we will be giving the resident 48 hours to fix the problem and return for a re-inspection. Our experiences in situations like this are often very positive, in most cases the resident is thankful for being alerted to the problem and enthusiastically makes the required changes. In many cases we have returned to look for the one missing alarm only to find that the family decided to change all of their smoke alarms and are proud to show them off. Situations like this are very rewarding for our firefighters, it makes you feel like you have made a difference with the knowledge that a family has taken their protection much more seriously. However not every home has this same response, occasionally we do meet residents who resent our insistence that their homes must comply with the law and feel that we are intruding into their personal affairs. After all if they donít want to be protected what business is it of ours to interfere? Despite our primary concern for the public in general, there is also a good reason for every firefighter to want families to be better protected. In the case of a house fire, if you are alerted early enough to make an escape, it is one less burning building that we have to enter. So in the case of fire safety, sometimes your business is also ours.


Published in the Villager newspaper April 6, 2011


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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