Residential fire safety program underway in Cambridge

“Firefighters are assigned 2,400 homes to visit. The aim is to visit homes and talk to homeowners and residents about fire safety.”

Don’t be surprised if you get a visit from your friendly neighborhood firefighter.

Earlier this month, the Cambridge Fire Department took to the streets for its residential fire safety program, which aims to educate homeowners about fire safety.

“Every fire department in the county, no matter how big or small, should have a smoke alarm program in place,” said John Percy, fire prevention chief for the Cambridge Fire Department.

“The purpose of this program is to educate homeowners and residents about home fire safety. This includes information about smoke alarms to ensure they are working and everyone is aware of their importance.”

The program is delivered by on-duty firefighters from all six fire stations in Cambridge.

“Firefighters are assigned 2,400 homes to visit. The goal is to visit homes and talk to homeowners and residents about fire safety,” said Percy.

“It’s a great time to do this now as we begin to prepare for the holiday season and with colder weather on the way.”

This year, Ontario is already on track to surpass last year’s fire deaths.

“Since Thanksgiving, 102 fire deaths have occurred in Ontario. Last year we had 124 and the year before it was 115,” said Percy.

“We relate this to COVID-19. Initially with lockdowns people stayed home. They were cooking and isolating more at home, so there were more risks. We definitely see an increase.”

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires, and the risk is increasing with colder weather on the way.

Percy says the winter months usually see the highest number of house fires due to the increased use of heating appliances.

“In the winter season there are more provincial deaths in house fires because there are more people in their homes. Regardless of COVID-19, they are using more heaters, receiving more entertainment and cooking more,” said Percy.

The Residential Fire Safety Program helps remind people of the main causes of fire.

“Since one of the main causes is unattended pans on the stove and cooking in the kitchen, we remind people of heating appliances to have them inspected and cleaned by professional technicians, and that includes wood stoves,” Percy said.

“We want to educate people and make them think about home fire safety when they see us coming to their house in uniform and in our fire trucks. We want to motivate them to say: hey, the fire brigade has come by, let’s think about the importance of fire safety in the home.”

Firefighters give homeowners some home safety tips.

“The most obvious are working smoke alarms on every level of their home, making sure they are tested, making sure batteries are changed once a year, and that the alarms have not expired,” Percy said.

Visit here to learn more about the fire safety of smoke detectors.

“Also checking whether there are working carbon monoxide detectors in the house and that is a big one, especially in the winter months. In Ontario, we are seeing more carbon monoxide poisonings because of all the heating appliances that are being used,” Percy said.

CO is colorless and odorless, which is why carbon monoxide poisoning is often referred to as the “silent killer.” At high concentrations, CO gas can cause loss of consciousness or death.

Visit here to learn more about preventing carbon monoxide.

The Cambridge Fore Department also shares information about fire drills during their rounds in local neighborhoods.

“Children are very good at this because they regularly do fire drills at school. We also want to promote this at the homes we visit. It’s good to have a fire escape plan to practice and to have a fire drill at home with your loved ones,” Percy said.

A fire can double in size every minute. That’s why, says Percy, having a fire escape plan is one of the most important things people can do as a family so everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire.

See here for more information on making an escape plan.

“The purpose of this program with the Cambridge Fire Dept. is to teach. We hope it’s enough motivation for people to check their smoke alarms, test them and make sure they have fire drills in their homes,” Percy said.

“This is a prevention piece. It’s like COVID-19, with wearing a mask, washing your hands and social distancing. These measures should help reduce the spread and illness.”

For the Cambridge Fire Service, hopefully a home visit from a local firefighter will raise awareness and help prevent future fires.

“That’s why we do what we do. The way we look at it, if we give you the education, it will help change your mindset, and that if there were a fire, everyone would be safe,” Percy said.

“The ultimate goal is that there are no injuries or deaths and that the number of house fires in the city of Cambridge is reduced.”

For more information, visit here.

Leave a Reply