'We are not fooling around': Local fire department charging smoke detector violators
The chief of the St. Marys Fire Department is through with warnings about smoke detectors.
Chief Richard Anderson’s department is now laying fines against those who don’t comply.
“It’s to get the message out that as a fire department, we are not fooling around. We have to take this seriously and so do people.”
The move follows a rash of serious house fires -- five in just a four-month period.
Normally St. Marys, a town of 7,200, expects one to two house fires a year.
“To have that many fires in that short period of time was quite alarming.”
In one case, a garage is all that remains of a blaze that destroyed a family home on Queen St. E.
Anderson says it was seconds away from being a devastating loss.
“That family did not have smoke alarms - at all - in that house. And the main occupant, only by chance when he went to the bathroom, discovered that his living room was on fire. And he quickly got his wife and son out of the house.”
In the aftermath, all were thankful for the lives saved.
But with no safeguards in place to prevent what could have been a tragedy, Anderson made a decision.
“We charged the homeowner after they had a major loss like that. Now, we feel bad; we have a heart, but at the same time, we had to get the point across that residents cannot operate like this. They have to have those smoke alarms.”
Anderson says it to not only protect residents but also the firefighters who respond to calls.
That’s why he says the charges will continue.
The most recent count was just days ago against a Wellington St. S. resident.
Anderson’s team laid a $360 fine after making a startling discovery, “The actual smoke alarms were disconnected.”
The chief says it’s not all that uncommon.
“We find that occupants will disconnect them because of the chirping and stuff like that, with the intention maybe I’m going to get another one, and then it kind of goes by the wayside, and they forget about it."
Which is why Anderson hopes people won’t forget his department is now frequently forgoing warnings for charges.
“It’s to get the message out that as a fire department, we are not fooling around. We have to take this seriously and so do people."
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