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Going door-to-door for fire safety in Vaughan

Vaughan firefighters plan to check local residences for working smoke alarms, writes Chief Deryn Rizzi
April 18, 2019
Deryn Rizzi

Imagine a car with no gas or a restaurant with no food -- they’re about as useful as a smoke alarm with a dead battery. Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) aims to remind residents about the importance of having working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms through our annual Alarms for Life Program.

Every weekend from May until the end of Fire Prevention Week, which runs from Oct. 6 to 12 this year, Vaughan firefighters go door-to-door as part of our fire safety campaign. The crews check for working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and speak to residents about fire safety. Last year, VFRS visited 3,497 homes during the Alarms for Life Program. This year, we plan to continue to spread the word to help ensure homes in Vaughan are properly equipped.

Residential fires are responsible for 73 per cent of all fatal fires in Canada each year. I believe that by educating citizens and inspecting homes, VFRS is working to lower the risk of death and harm from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Far too often, our firefighters enter homes that have mounted smoke alarms, but the battery is dead. It is a good idea to replace the batteries in your alarms when you change the clocks in the spring and fall, and test them monthly.

Smoke alarm placement is also an important aspect of fire safety. Your smoke alarm comes with manufacturer's recommendations on where to install it, when to replace it and how to maintain it. Those instructions should be followed to ensure alarms remain the most effective. Early detection and early warning to people inside the home is critical to survival, so proper alarm placement and maintenance are essential. A whole community is at risk if the alarms in just one home are not in proper working condition.

Just as important as having working smoke alarms installed in the right places is having and practising an escape plan. If the alarm goes off, everyone in the home needs to know exactly what they're going to do and where they’re going to go. Make your plan, practise it with family members and increase your chance of survival.

--Deryn Rizzi is the chief of Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service.