Fire Prevention Week in Orillia off to a hot start

Fire Prevention Week in Orillia off to a hot start

Orillia firefighter Adam Marchildon is pictured on one of the department’s vehicles during Saturday’s kickoff to Fire Prevention Week. Andrew Philips/OrilliaMatters
Jess and four-year-old Boden Routh checked out the fire trucks at the Home Depot parking lot Saturday afternoon. Andrew Philips/OrilliaMatters
Acting fire Chief Brent Thomas would like to see new residential builds incorporate sprinkler systems. Andrew Philips/OrilliaMatters

This year's theme is 'Not every hero wears a cape,' says acting fire chief, urging residents to be their family's hero when it comes to fire safety

While people finally seem to be getting the message about the importance of having working carbon-monoxide and smoke detectors, more still needs to be done on the safety front, local officials say.

Speaking during the kickoff to Fire Prevention Week near the city’s Home Depot Saturday, acting fire Chief Brent Thomas said he would like to see more city residents adopt residential sprinkler systems as a means to safeguard their lives and property.

“There is a big push by our (Canadian) Association of Fire Chiefs,” Thomas said. “The time to add sprinklers is during the construction of a new house.”

To prove the point, the department hosted a live burn demonstration. During the event, one replica furnished room was equipped with a sprinkler while another nearby room only featured a smoke alarm.

Thomas noted that the non-sprinkler room was totally consumed by fire while the room with the sprinkler only showed fire damage to a chair.

According to Thomas, sprinklers can be installed using regular copper or pex piping and aren’t necessarily required in every area of the house, but rather in spaces that feature heating or cooking equipment.

“The concern to us is that in new builds, they’re using plastics and composites,” he said. “The difficulty with the components is that they melt before they burn and smoke and toxins are much more hazardous.”

As well, the department is using Fire Prevention Week to stress the importance of ensuring one’s family has an escape plan that everybody understands.

“Our theme is ‘not every hero wears a cape,’” Thomas said, adding the department is urging residents to be their family’s hero by planning and practising an emergency escape route.

“Making sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working is just the beginning.”

Thomas said it’s important to practise the plan before an emergency rather than just discuss and outline it with other family members and hope that everybody remembers what to do.

“You can be your own family’s hero,” Thomas said. “We want everyone to have a safety plan for home, work and school.”
Terry Duff, the city’s fire prevention officer, said the city regularly checks about 2,400 homes annually to ensure they have working smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide alarms.

“We’re finding a lot more homes are compliant,” he said, noting firefighters will still issue warnings to homeowners without working detectors.

Thomas said the department is also available to residents who would like firefighters to come to their homes and ensure both smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide alarms are functioning and adequately placed throughout the home.

“You don’t need to have one on every level,” he said.. “A combination alarm is the best way to go.”

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