Residents still not getting fire safety message
Residents still not getting fire safety message 
Welland Tribune
April 4, 2017
Article by Dave Johnson
 

Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services Engine 1 sits outside the fire hall in this file photo. Fire Chief Tom Cartwright said residents still aren’t getting the message that working smoke alarms save lives.

Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services Engine 1 sits outside the fire hall in this file photo. Fire Chief Tom Cartwright said residents still aren’t getting the message that working smoke alarms save lives.

Fire safety in Ontario does not appear to be a priority, said Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services Fire Chief Tom Cartwright in a letter posted the to the fire service’s Facebook page.
 
He said fire deaths in the province continue to rise, with statistics to date well ahead of the same period in 2016.
 
“I am reluctant to think or say this, but perhaps they ‘Think It Will Never Happen To Them’, so it simply is not all that important. There seems to be a lack of recognition, which is all the more reason to ensure you take care of yourself,” the chief said in the letter.
 
In an interview before the letter was posted, Cartwright said Port Colborne residents still aren’t getting the message that working smoke alarms save lives.
 
“We’ve gone through 151 units, a combination of homes and multi-unit residences, and there’s a 21 per cent compliance rate. It’s been lower, but we’re starting to see an upswing,” said Cartwright, adding in many cases people don’t even have smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.
 
The chief said firefighters have to assume that 79 per cent of the city is not compliance with having smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors.
 
“The reality is that some are in compliance though.”
 
He said in the first two weeks of March, as firefighters checked homes in the East Village area, the compliance rate for working smoke alarms was as low as six per cent. And in the area of 300 Elgin Street, Cartwright said firefighters found smoke alarms more than 10 years old in the townhouses.
 
“We have a long way to go. We’d like to see 100 per cent compliance, that is our goal,” he said, adding the fire service is working its way across the city.
 
Cartwright said under the Ontario Fire Code, any new home must have working smoke alarms on every floor, in hallways leading to sleeping areas and in every bedroom. Homes are also now required to have carbon monoxide detectors as well.
 
He said even if one level of a home doesn’t have a sleeping area, it still requires a smoke alarm. He said fines, to home or property owners and tenants, without working, or any, smoke alarms are $300, and charges may be laid in some cases.
 
“Anybody, anywhere in the city can call us anytime to come check their smoke alarms. If you call us, you won’t get a ticket.”
 
Cartwright said the fire service recently started a smoke alarm recycling program, and a drum inside the fire hall, at 3 Killaly Street West, was already full and being taken to Raw Materials Company, on Invertose Drive in Port Colborne, to be recycled.
 
“There’s 150 smoke alarms that are just not working or at least 10 years old or older.”
 
He said of those alarms brought in to be recycled, new ones have been placed in homes by firefighters. Residents who want to take part in the recycling program should not take smoke alarms down by themselves, he said, but should contact the office, Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 905-834-4512, and firefighters will come take them down and install a new one at the cost of $5.
 
In his online letter, the chief also said that perhaps serious consideration be given to financing an intensive public safety campaign towards fire safety.
 
“Money spent in preventing fires, deaths, serious injuries, family tragedies and community grief would result in millions saved, rather than deal with the results of fire. Out city cares. The fire department cares. Our politicians care. We want to make a difference. We want to help keep your family safe,” he said.