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Ontario fire fatalities reach 25 year high

The deaths of four people, including two children on December 29th, pushed Ontario’s fire fatalities to a 25 year high.

"It makes me sick to my stomach every time you hear it, because, it’s not a statistic. It’s a person. It’s a family that’s been impacted. Children have died," says Perth East-West Perth Fire Chief, Bill Hunter.

133 Ontarian's died in house fires last year. That’s a number not seen in more than two decades, says Hunter. Ontario hovered between 75 and 100 fire fatalities from 2010 to 2019, but saw an increase to 115 fire fatalities in 2020, then 124 in 2021, and now, 133 in 2022.

"The number one problem I think is complacency. Too many people assume it won’t happen to them, but it does," says Perth East-West Perth Fire Investigator, and Fire Prevention Officer, James Marshall.

Marshall says at many fire investigations he conducts, disabled, expired, or simply non-existent smoke alarms, have led to fatal or near-fatal outcomes.

"If you’re not outside by the time the fire trucks show up, it doesn’t matter if it’s the big city or rural side road, you can only hold your breath for so long," he says.

"If the smoke alarm goes off, you definitely have enough time to get out, but if you don’t have that, and that’s what we constantly see, and that’s where a lot of these fire fatalities come from, is there is no working smoke alarm in the house. If you don’t have it, there’s seconds," says Jess Jorritsma, Perth East-West Perth Fire Public Educator.

Fire officials say they’d much rather have people reach out to them with questions about fire safety, smoke alarms, and escape plans, now, than, after the fact.

"It’s numbing to hear 133 people, 133 families, have been impacted throughout the province, by fire. It’s a gut punch," says Chief Hunter.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office has a series of fire safety tips here. You can also visit their website Top Stories

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