Corwin Quade, Madawaska Valley Fire Chief, worries about the alarming increase of fatal fires in Ontario. Last year 103 fatal fires caused the loss of 114 lives — the highest in fifteen years. He says this year began badly and points out that a Toronto house fire early on January 29th that took the lives of four people has already brought the 2021 total to 11 fatal fires with 18 lives lost.
MV chimney fires on the rise
Quade says, “Another thing that is becoming an issue is the number chimney fires the Madawaska Valley Fire Department has responded since January 1, 2021. There have been four calls for chimney fires in January compared to last year when the MV Fire Dept. only responded to three chimney fires in all of 2020.” In every case, the call described flames visible coming out of the chimney. “Fires like this can quickly spread through the walls and roof; then we have a structure fire.”
Important tips for home owners and renters
Chief Quade wants MV residents to sit up and take note of these important fire safety pointers.
- Do not remove alarms
- Check the batteries every six months
- Have an escape plan that includes a meeting place outside
- If the alarm goes off, get out and stay out
- With the unusual winter we have had, make sure you burn dry seasoned wood, and clean the flue pipes and chimney
- Make sure all the alarms are installed properly.
- If you are not sure of the regulations or laws contact your local Fire Department. They are more than happy to answer your questions
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms
It is crucial to have working smoke alarms on every level of your house, and outside each sleeping area. Newly built homes are required to have one smoke/carbon monoxide alarm/ strobe light (built-in) on every level and in every sleeping area. See below for tips on where to install your alarms.
Diagram from the Office of the Fire Marshal
Quade gives a stark warning about why you need working alarms in your home:
- When an alarm goes off, you have less than a minute to get out of the building.
- A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds.
- Newly built homes burn 8 times faster than houses built 50 years ago.
- In just three minutes temperatures in a structure fire can reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius)
Leading causes of fires
Unattended cooking: Do not leave the area where you are cooking. If for some reason you need to leave the room, turn off the appliance.
Smoking: Extinguish your cigarette when you are done with. Don’t just put it down and walk away. It can smoulder for hours before it ignites and starts a fire.
Quade,C.,Madawaska Valley Fire Dept.(2021,Jan.29) Getting too many Fatal fires in Ontario [media advisory]