No working smoke alarms? You could be fined
By Sarah Bissonette
April 30, 2012
PARRY SOUND - Not having a working smoke alarm can hit property owners in the pocketbook.
An individual property owner can be fined between $235 and $5,000 or sent to jail for year or a corporation can be fined $100,000 or a year for a jail for not having the safety devices on every level of a home or in each hotel room unit.
Area fire departments would rather educate everyone of the law requiring working smoke alarms, but do charge people for not obeying it.
Early detection keeps homes from being destroyed, said Parry Sound Fire Prevention Officer John Tuck.
On April 10 a small electrical fire by a Parry Sound home’s patio door was noticed promptly by the homeowner who called for help at 6:32 a.m. Her early detection had fire crews on site in minutes and limited damage to a few thousands dollars.
Later that same day, residents of a Parry Sound townhouse were just going to bed at 10:30 p.m. when they heard a ‘puff’, said Tuck, and found the basement full of smoke. It turned out some clothes near the furnace were on fire and the fire department was able to get the hot items out of the home and put the flame out without damage to the home.
Early detection of the fires, in this case by the residents before alarms went off, had them returned to their home when firefighters left. In both these cases the homes had working smoke alarms that would have sounded the alarm.
“It’s very important to have working smoke alarms, “ said Tuck. “Because that’s what’s going to save you’re lives and the earlier fire departments are respond, the less damage there is to your house.”
Last year there were upward of nine home owners charged after firefighters found no working smoke alarms in the building.
At 12:50 a.m. on December 24,2011 a resident woke up smelling smoke after wax from a forgotten candle, in a safe container, caught on fire.
The fire was quickly put out by firefighters, who noted there wasn’t a working smoke alarm. The land owner was charged and paid a $500 fine.
Two months before that, on October 24, 2011, Parry Sound firefighters were called to a home on fire at 6:15 a.m. By the time the fire was out there was significant damage to the second floor. Again, there was no working smoke alarm and the homeowner was charged and fined $500.
To help everyone comply with the law, the Parry Sound fire department does public education, and helps seniors change the batteries.
In Seguin, it’s a similar story, where the fire department works to educate the public, but can and has fined property owners.
Even at an empty cottage Seguin firefighters responded to a smoke alarm to find the dryer on fire and put it out before any further damage was done.
“We’ve never had a fire were we’ve had non-working smoke alarms (in a home)” said Seguin’s Fire Prevention Officer Patrick Shoebottom.
Last year the company that owned a Seguin hotel was fined $4,000 after the fire department found it didn’t have working smoke alarms in 17 rooms during an inspection.
“We’re out there, we’re doing it - we don’t want to,” said Shoebottom. “We hate going to court, we’d much rather people have the things and keep their family safe.”
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