Smoke detectors can add time to your life in fires: Vernon deputy fire chief

If your smoke detector is 10 years old, it’s time for a new one

Fire Prevention Week kicked off on Oct. 6, and by Oct. 7, the Vernon Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) had logged 3,057 calls for 2019—20 of which were structure fires.

“Home fires is where we have the most fire death,” VFRS deputy fire Chief Scott Hemstad said. “Homes today burn so fast and they need to get out as quickly as possible.”

To do that, Hemstad said, proper equipment and tools must be in place—specifically smoke detectors.

“Put a smoke alarm in every sleeping area and outside every sleeping area and on every level including the basement and the garage,” Hemstad said.

He said investing in battery-operated smoke detectors with bluetooth capabilities that allow for the devices to “talk to each other,” similar to how older, hard-wired smoke detectors work.

“Where that can be extremely helpful is,” Hemstad said. “If you have a fire in your basement or your garage, that detector will set off all the detectors in your house at once.”

“Otherwise, if you have older ones in that area, it won’t go off until the smoke actually gets into your bedroom or in the hall outside your bedroom and at that point it could be a lot tougher to get out.”

Smoke detectors that are older than 10 years old should be replaced, Hemstad said. And fresh batteries should be inserted and tested regularly.

“As we get into the colder weather, everybody is firing up the furnaces and those finances are all potential sources of carbon monoxide,” Hemstad said. “They should have carbon monoxide detectors in those sleeping areas as well.”

Carbon monoxide is completely colourless and odourless, Hemstad said, “you’ll never be able to detect it with your nose and it kills people every single year in Canada.”

“It’s called the silent killer because you never see it coming,” he said.

READ MORE: Vernon firefighters’ calls nearly double since 2015

READ MORE: Fourth cemetery in Okanagan hit by thieves


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