Montreal family speaks out after fire kills beloved dog when security alarm fails

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Montreal family devastated after security system failed to detect fire that killed beloved dog
A family in Montreal's Pointe-Claire suburb has the lost their home and beloved dog due to a devastating fire. Family members are outraged that their security system failed to detect and inform the fire department when the blaze started, despite having an active account. The family says had the alarm company notified them or the fire department, their home or dog may have been saved. Tim Sargeant has this exclusive story – Nov 27, 2023

A family in the Montreal suburb of Pointe-Clare says they’re left devastated following the loss of their home in a Sept. 8 fire, which destroyed all of their possessions and killed their dog.

“Absolute sadness. It just brings back so many bad memories,” Marisa Di Meglio said.

The fire started in the late afternoon when no one was home. Di Meglio’s husband Robert Gillen, had just left to pick up their son Jacob from his high school football practice.

By the time they returned home minutes later, the fire had already started with their dog stuck inside.

Echo is seen in this undated photo.
Echo is seen in this undated photo. Courtesy DeMeglio/Gillen family

The father and son entered, but couldn’t find their beloved Echo.

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“I feel really bad that I couldn’t save the dog and I think about that a lot and how I feel like I failed him in a way,” Jacob Gillen said.

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It took firefighters several hours to extinguish the flames. Only a shell remains and the remaining structure needs to be demolished.

“When I went out into that room there was such intense heat coming up from the basement, it was wild,” Robert Gillen said.

The family is living in a rental home while trying to get their lives back together. But in the midst of the turmoil, they’re in a dispute with their home alarm security system provider, Securitas.

“Nobody from the alarm company called 9-1-1. And it was confirmed that they hadn’t. They had no clue that the house had burned,” Di Meglio said.

Di Meglio says Securitas told them that their alarm system wasn’t connected to the central service because her home alarm batteries had been low since last July. Di Meglio says she wants to know why no one from Securitas informed them that the batteries were low.

She says nothing on the alarm panel indicated a low battery warning and no messages were sent to their phones.

In a letter from Securitas to the family, given to Global News, a staff member wrote: ”In July 2023, a low battery level signal was reported, and a notification should’ve been sent to your keypad and on your total connect application.” As for the alarm not being connected to the central system, the letter continues, “There is a possibility of damage or communication failure from the Internet line prior to the alarm.”

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And Securitas writes that the alarm systems should be tested regularily. The last test was conducted on Nov. 1, 2022.

In a statement to Global News, Securitas writes: “We are saddened to hear about the incident Ms. Dimeglio and Mr. Gillen experienced on september 8, 2023. We are committed to protecting and maintaining the confidentiality of our clients and will refrain from commenting publicly about the specifics of their security and safety systems.”

Securitas is offering the family a new system and six months of free service. Di Meglio tells Global News that she has refused the offer, instead seeking a full reimbursement of fees for a system she says failed her family when they needed it most.

“If the alarm company would have called we would have come home right away, one of us would have come home right away and most probably our dog would be with us right now,” Di Meglio said.

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