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Smoke alarms save lives

(Cartoon by Lance Goosen)

Two recent fires put out by Oshawa Fire Services have Fire Chief Derrick Clark concerned. That’s because there were no working fire alarms.

The first fire at 232 Burke St. was a kitchen fire, and nobody was home at the time. The other fire was also a kitchen fire on Athol Street. Luckily, both were quickly put out by firefighters.

However, people need to learn that smoke alarms save lives.

Clark says he is worried about the lack of working fire alarms, which he says his crews are seeing over and over again.

According to the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, in 2018 a total of 91 people died in fires across the province. Four of those deaths occurred in a downtown house fire in Oshawa in January of that year.

An investigation into the explosion and fire in that Oshawa rental house revealed that the smoke alarms in the building had been removed due to drug use.

That fire killed four tenants, including Lindsey Bonchek and her two children. Another resident of the building, Steve McDonald, also died.

A working smoke detector might have spared these victims.

As a result, it spurred on the local fire department to canvas the area and give out smoke alarms to those in need and offer up advice on regular maintenance. Residents were also warned of fines resulting from a lack of properly functioning alarms. Residents can receive a ticket of $360, or a fine of up to $50,000, while corporations can receive a fine of up to $100,000.

While there were no injuries at either recent fire, it’s distressing to see a repeat of the negligence that can lead to such tragic consequences.

Smoke alarms work to save lives. It’s a small thing with minimal upkeep. It’s also the law.