‘It’s always a good idea to talk about fire safety’: Barrie’s deputy fire chief

‘It’s always a good idea to talk about fire safety’: Barrie’s deputy fire chief
CTV News

Two separate fires in Barrie over the past several weeks have left 103 people in the city displaced.

The cause of the devastating fire Monday evening which destroyed an apartment building in Barrie’s Allandale neighbourhood will remain undetermined, as the structural integrity of the building will not allow for further investigation. This means residents will not know if the fire could have been prevented.

Despite this, Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Weber says it’s always a good idea to talk about fire safety.

While these events are not always avoidable, Weber says there are many preventative measures that can be taken to minimize risk. He says there are everyday things, such as avoiding the use of candles, being mindful when cooking, and not leaving a hot stove unattended.

Weber also explains that while most fire safety preventative measures remain the same all year round, homeowners should make certain adjustments when the seasons change. In the winter it is important to remove snow and ice from any doorways to ensure a clear exit path in case of emergency.  In the summer, he urges people to move their barbecues away from walls and garage doorways before they start cooking to lessen the risk of grease fires. Weber also notes that carbon monoxide levels fluctuate, and are highest in the fall.

In the unfortunate case of a fire, Weber also stresses the importance of having proper and up-to-date detection equipment. This includes a smoke detector on every floor, as well as a carbon monoxide detector.

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According to Weber, there are a few common mistakes people make regarding the detection equipment.

“A lot of people don’t realize their smoke alarms have an expiry date,” he says. He urges people to check to make sure their detectors haven’t expired and are functioning properly, and once it is time to replace their outdated smoke alarms, to do so with the correct type.

“There is a lot of choice,” he says. “Replace your old smoke alarm with the same type that’s already there. If it’s hardwired, get a hardwired replacement; if it’s battery, get a battery replacement. When in doubt, take your old smoke alarm with you when you go to buy a new one.”

Additionally, Weber says that every household should have an escape plan that includes two ways to exit each room, and a meeting place to report to once you have evacuated. Weber says that having a meeting spot helps firefighters perform their job more effectively.

“It makes it more difficult if we have to worry about locating people. If it’s just the building we can handle it.”

In the case of Monday’s apartment fire, he says the time of day may have helped everyone make it out safely. The fire occurred at around 10 p.m., leading Weber to believe most people were likely still awake and alert.

This is why Weber stresses the importance of practising an escape plan and ensuring detection equipment is working and up to date. If a fire happens in the middle of the night, residents may be disoriented, but having a plan that they have practised will help ensure everyone knows how to make it out safely.

For more information and current guidelines regarding fire safety, visit Barrie Fire and Emergency Services website.

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