Smoke alarm law to change

Ontario has stepped up its laws regarding smoke alarms in an effort to help save lives and reduce property damage.
As of March 1, 2006, all homes will be required to have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home. This is in addition to the previous law requiring smoke alarms outside all sleeping areas.
“In about 50 percent of fatal, preventable home fires, there was no smoke alarm warning,” said Ontario Fire Marshal Bernard Moyle.
“It is critical to have working smoke alarms on every level to give occupants the precious seconds they need to escape a fire,” he stressed.
The amendment applies to all single family, semi-detached, and town homes, whether owner-occupied or rented.
Municipal fire departments across Ontario have been informed of the amended regulation and will be enforcing it after the March 1 deadline.
For homeowners and tenants, non-compliance with the new smoke alarm requirement can result in a $235 fine. Fire officials also can issue citations to people for tampering with their smoke detector, such as removing the batteries.
Landlords must make sure their rental properties comply with the law. Those who fail to comply can face penalties of up to $25,000.
“This may be a different approach than you are used to from your fire department,” Moyle said. “That’s because they know how important it is to have working smoke alarms.
“If a fire were to occur in your home, smoke alarms could mean the difference between life and death.”
Fire departments will be launching a public awareness campaign—“Working Smoke Alarms: It’s the Law!”—to inform homeowners, tenants, and landlords of their new responsibilities under the Fire Code.
Smoke alarms should be tested monthly, and the batteries replaced or recharged once a year. Alarms should be replaced altogether if they are more than 10 years old.
Batteries should never be removed from a smoke alarm. If nuisance alarms are a problem, Moyle recommends moving the alarm to another location or purchasing one with a hush feature that temporarily silences the alarm.
Families also are encouraged to develop a home fire escape plan so that everyone in the household knows what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.