Windsor Fire & Rescue Services has witnessed a troubling trend in recent years. Chief Bruce Montone says structural fires have been occurring at an “unacceptable rate” since 2007, leading to fatalities, injuries and significant dollar loss.
The rise in the resulting damage they bring is partly due to a serious lack of working smoke alarms in Windsor homes. Inspections in 2011 revealed that nearly half (43%) of homes in the city were not equipped with working smoke alarms.
There are other factors at work as well. “In the 70s, you had about seventeen minutes to escape your home when a fire started,” explains Chief Montone. “But today, with the prevalence of synthetics and plastics combined with light-weight construction materials in the building of homes, you now have less than three minutes to get out.” This highlights the need for home-escape planning.
To help stop this trend in its tracks, Windsor Fire & Rescue Services has launched a new program: Wake Up, Get a Working Smoke Alarm. Under the program, members of Windsor Fire will be blitzing the city by being on the streets in increasing numbers conducting home fire safety inspections.
“We need to make fire safety part of every conversation too,” says Chief Montone. “So from now on, if you bump into me or any member of Windsor Fire on the street or at an event, I want you to have checked your alarms and planned your escape and to come right up to us and say, ‘I have working smoke alarms and we have planned our escape’”.
In addition to this new program, Windsor Fire will continue to work closely with Windsor Police and the Office of Fire Marshal to investigate and prevent deliberately set fires. They also ask for public assistance to deter them. “Be alert, know what is going on in your neighbourhood,” says Chief Montone. “We will also arm our staff with the information necessary to reduce unattended cooking fires.”
Facts and Figures:
- Since 2007, there has been a dramatic increase in structural fires: Windsor Fire estimates the current rate is one every other day.
- Unattended Cooking is the number one cause; deliberately set fires are second; and smoking is third.
- Law requires residents to have working smoke alarms on every level of their dwelling and outside all sleeping areas.
- The current standard for smoke alarms is replacement after ten years of use. Battery replacement is recommended with each time change (“Change your clock, change your battery.”). Next up is Daylight Savings Time on March 10.