Latest News

Do your smoke alarms work?

Needless deaths continue to happen, chief says

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The City of Oshawa is looking for everyone to answer the question, does your smoke alarm work?

Well, if it does, they want you to join a social media campaign to prove it with the hashtag #MySmokeAlarmWorks, and in doing so, spread the word about how vital it is to have these devices functional in your home.

The campaign follows a pair of fires in Oshawa in a single week, one of which left four residents dead, including two young children. The home at 116 Centre Street North had no working smoke alarms in the home when it went up in flames on Jan. 8.

“It’s unfortunate that a tragic event has had to spur this activity on, but as we’re seeing across the province, we’re just seeing it over and over again,” says Oshawa Fire Chief Derrick Clark of the repeated incidents of homes with no smoke alarms.

It’s something Clark says is extremely frustrating for those in fire services.

“I don’t think there’s a chief in the province of Ontario right now that’s not frustrated,” he says. “Everybody in the industry is just frustrated that these are needless deaths and it’s so easily avoidable by a $20-$25 smoke detector.”

Since its launch on Jan. 11, the hashtag has been used over 500 times, and reached approximately 805,000 people via Twitter alone. Clark credits the campaign to chief fire prevention officer Susan King with Oshawa Fire Services.

“We’re seeing lots of traction and we’re hoping to just get this going right over North America if we can,” Clark says.

The message couldn’t be more vital today, Clark says, as while fires may not come as often, when they do, they burn faster and more aggressive, making early detection and exit all the more important.

“There’s so much additional fuel in houses today then there was when I was a child or before me and the fires are taking hold and spreading that much faster and the smoke is becoming that much more toxic and dangerous,” he says.

And by law, all landlords and home owners are required to have working smoke alarms in their homes, the fines for not doing so can be as high as $50,000 or one year in jail.