Smoke alarms save lives

Properly installed and maintained working smoke alarms are life-saving devices critical in the early detection of fire.

The Fire Marshal of Ontario, Bernard Moyle, has stated smoke alarms are an essential component of fire safety along with a well-rehearsed home escape plan. Good fire-safe behaviours also are important.

Wise advice from a man dedicated to fire safety.

A recent television program suggested most smoke alarms in use in Canada and the United States are ineffective. Wow! Kind of a surprise is it not? Does this mean your home is just as safe without smoke alarms? Absolutely not!

In a news release, Mr. Moyle pointed out there are two types of smoke alarms in common use–ionization and photoelectric. They are tested to the same standard, and both will detect all types of fires that commonly occur in the home.

But photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to smouldering fire while ionization alarms may respond slightly faster to flaming fires.

Since no one can predict the type of fire that will occur, it is difficult to recommend which is best. Fire safety can be enhanced by installing both types.

Statistics have shown that smoke alarms save lives. In 1999, Ontario recorded its lowest fire death rate ever. In 20 years, the fire death rate decreased by more than 60 percent.

The Office of the Fire Marshal attributes this decrease to enhanced building and fire codes, greater public awareness and, most importantly, the use of working smoke alarms.

Rainy River District has some stories to support the effectiveness of smoke alarms:

  • Barwick, Ont., November, 1997–Five family members are alive because they had smoke alarms installed in their home.
    • A mother was awakened by the sound of the smoke alarms, allowing her and her four children to escape a blaze that started in the kitchen.
    • The family had four smoke alarms installed throughout their home.
  • Fort Frances, Ont., January, 1999–Two people are alive because they had a smoke alarm installed.
    • Two people were awakened by the sound of a smoke alarm, allowing them to escape a fire that could have been deadly if a working smoke alarm was not present.
  • Barwick, Ont., June, 1999–A family is alive today because they had smoke alarms installed.
    • The family was sleeping when the blaze began. The father could smell smoke and got his family out safely. They escaped with only the clothes on their back.

Along with the Ontario Fire Marshal, and all firefighters, I am urging all Ontario residents to continue to use and maintain working smoke alarms.

Remember: the Ontario Fire Code requires all homes have working smoke alarms.