Spike in fire deaths province-wide has Ontario firefighters alarmed

Citizens are being urged to practise fire safety during pandemic

Fire fatalities are up across Ontario so far this year and the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association is urging citizens to practise fire safety while they’re staying home during the pandemic.

There have been 68 deadly fires in the province in 2020, an average of almost 10 per month. The average number of annual fire fatalities in the 10-year period of 2009-2018 was just 85, according to the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal.

“At this rate, Ontario is on track for approximately 116 fire deaths in 2020 which would be the highest in over a decade, by far.” said Carmen Santoro, recently-elected President of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association (OPFFA).

The OPFFA said factors are ripe for an increase in house fires as more Ontario residents have been home during the last four months and more people are cooking at home instead of dining out because of COVID-19.

People need to make sure they have working smoke alarms on every level of their home. The OPFFA also offers these tips:

  • Ensure smoking materials are properly extinguished
  • Ensure all cooking activities are adequately supervised
  • Keep matches and lighters out of reach of children
  • Make sure electrical appliances are in good repair and electrical outlets are not overloaded
  • Be cautious when using candles, insect repellent devices and other flame sources
  • Ensure BBQs, fire pits and other outdoor appliances are in well-ventilated areas and adequately distanced from your home or any other combustible surface.

The Association points out that today’s homes actually burn hotter than 50 years ago due to the types of construction materials used and other factors.