Fire officials frustrated by preventable fires

In early March, a father and daughter died in a house fire in North York. Following an investigation, the fire marshal reported that the main floor smoke alarm did not have a working battery.

Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention and Public Education Frank Lamie expressed his frustration.

“The fire was preventable, number one. If all of the smoke alarms worked, I think that they would have had a much, much higher survival rate,” Lamie said.

Project Zero ( began last year as a public education program designed to reduce the number of residential fire deaths in the city to zero. As part of the campaign, fire inspectors go door-to-door in certain communities to make sure that homes are compliant with the fire code.

Inspection blitzes have already been completed in the area east of High Park as well as the Keele Street and Sheppard Avenue area. The next round of inspections is set for the western part of Scarborough. Deputy Chief Lamie believes that the program’s goal is attainable.

“Our goal is to have zero fire deaths; not only in the city of Toronto, but in the province of Ontario,” Lamie said.

But people don’t seem to be getting the message.

“We’re finding that a lot of homes have one working smoke alarm, but they’re not in compliance with the law. We’re finding only about 40 per cent … actually are in compliance,” Lamie said.

Provincial law states that all Ontario homes must have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. A municipal bylaw requires all homes that have a fuel-fired appliance to have at least one carbon monoxide alarm installed.