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Whitby, October 9, 2018 – Durham Fire Chiefs are sounding the alarm on fires and fire-related deaths with a strong, unified message about the importance of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms this Fire Prevention Week – taking place October 7 to 13.

“This year so far there have been seven fire related deaths in buildings without functioning smoke alarms in Durham Region,” said Gord Weir, Regional Fire Coordinator and Chief of Clarington Emergency and Fire Services. “Not only is this tragic, it’s preventable. Surprisingly, only about 50 per cent of homes we visited in Durham Region had working smoke alarms on every level and outside sleeping areas.”

In addition to enforcement, under the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week – “LOOK. LISTEN. LEARN. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere” – WFES wants the community to be aware of the following important fire safety tips:

  • Both hard-wired and battery operated smoke alarms are required to be replaced once they are 10 years old;
  • Many fatal fires occur at night when everyone is asleep, so early warning from a smoke alarm is crucial to survival;
  • Under Ontario's fire code, a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm are required outside sleeping areas and on every storey of a home;
  • It is the responsibility of landlords to ensure their rental properties have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to comply with the law;
  • Alarms should be tested monthly, with batteries changed as least once a year; and,
  • Every family should develop and practice a home fire escape plan.

Local Fire Chiefs on the importance of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms:

“Despite improving building codes and heightened public fire safety awareness, the number of fatal fires in the province is on the rise. Unfortunately, the common denominator in many fatal fires is that smoke alarms were either not working, or not present at all. In many cases, working smoke alarms could have been the difference between life and death.” 
- Dave Lang, Fire Chief, Town of Ajax 

“Everyone has a responsibility to protect their family and home from fire. Prevention is always the best course of action. “LOOK” for potential fire hazards in your home and take action to make sure a fire doesn’t start. LISTEN” for the smoke alarm in an emergency. Only working smoke alarms give you the early notification of fire and the time you and your family need to safely escape. Many fatal fires occur at night when everyone is asleep, so early warning is crucial to survival. Fire and smoke move faster than you and there’s no time to figure out how to escape your home after a fire starts. “LEARN” and practice a home fire escape plan before there’s a fire so you can get out safely.”
- Rick Harrison, Fire Chief, Township of Brock

“I cannot stress enough the importance of working smoke and CO alarms during this year’s Fire Prevention Week. The Ontario Fire Marshal has reported that the fire death rate has dropped by over 500% since the introduction of residential smoke alarms in the 1970’s. They only save lives if they’re installed properly and operational. Today’s residential structures burn eight times faster than 50 years ago, and early detection will provided you the time to escape a burning structure along with an escape plan.”
- Derrick Clark, Fire Chief, City of Oshawa

“It’s important that we keep fire safety a topic of priority throughout our community conversation. Working smoke alarms provide the early warning needed for surviving a fire, and having them in your home can not only save lives, it’s the law. Fire Prevention Week allows us to highlight these crucial reminders and raise awareness about the inspection and educational opportunities that our Department offers.”
- John Hagg, Fire Chief, City of Pickering 

“Working smoke alarms on every level of your home is crucial to activate with a developing fire, enables 911 calls sooner, leading to action and saving lives.”
- Mark Berney, Fire Chief, Township of Scugog

“On behalf of the Township of Uxbridge Fire Department, I join the other municipal Fire Chiefs in Durham Region in urging everyone to install and maintain working smoke alarms in their home. Take action today, your family’s lives may depend on it.”
- Phil Alexander, Fire Chief, Town of Uxbridge

“We want residents and landlords to know we are serious about smoke alarm enforcement. In the past five years in Whitby, one out of every two homes that experienced a fire did not have working smoke alarms. In today’s home fires, people only have one or two minutes to escape. Working smoke alarms on every level give the early warning needed to escape a fire in your home.”

- Dave Speed, Fire Chief, Town of Whitby

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