Check your smoke detectors, Ontario fire marshal says with 27 fatal fires in 2022

Click to play video: 'Global News Morning Peterborough: Marking fire prevention week'
Global News Morning Peterborough: Marking fire prevention week
Fire week runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 8. Ontario fire marshal Jon Pegg spoke with 'Global News Morning Peterborough' host Teresa Kaszuba about what the week means, and what residents need to be doing to keep fire safety at the forefront. – Oct 4, 2021

As we change our clocks for daylight time this weekend, Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal is calling on everyone to take the time to check their smoke detectors as well.

The plea comes after 27 fatal fires, killing 40 people, were reported in the province in the first two months of the year.

“There’s nothing that indicates any systemic issues related to these fires,” deputy fire marshal Tim Beckett said in an interview on Thursday. “But there are a lot of contributing pieces that the public needs to understand around fires.”

January saw 11 fires that resulted in 21 deaths, while 19 people died in 16 fires last month.

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Fire officials have been stressing the importance of having working fire alarms, but Beckett said on average about half of fatal, preventable house fires in Ontario do not have working devices.

“It’s not a ‘nice to have,’ it’s a must-have,” he said. “It’s an Ontario law requiring working smoke alarms to be located in every residential home and they need to be located in every storey of the home and outside every sleeping area.”

He also said that for added protection, it’s highly recommended that a smoke alarm be installed in every bedroom.

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Beckett did not go into detail into some of the causes of this year’s fatal fires, but said a common issue is people not paying attention, whether it be in the kitchen while cooking, discarded cigarette butts or unattended candles.

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Besides smoke detectors, the other preventive measure his office stresses is having at least two escape routes out of the home, especially if there are children living there.

“When a fire happens, especially when you are sleeping, you don’t have a lot of time once you are alerted to a fire to determine ‘what am I going to do next?'” Beckett said.

“In today’s world, with the number of plastics and synthetics that we’re using, fire burns a lot hotter and a lot faster. So there is about three to five minutes max to get out once you are alerted to the fire.”

He recommends that while checking their smoke detectors this weekend, parents take the time to practise escape routes with their kids.

“We want to make sure smoke alarms are working, so test them regularly and make sure you know how to get out in the event of a fire,” he said.


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