It should really come as no surprise to anyone that Brampton is seeing a sharp spike in the number of residential fires originating in the kitchen, given the large number of second units, new immigrants who may not realize something is amiss in their rental dwelling and the lack of fire safety awareness.
In an exclusive interview with Can-India, Tina Hickey, Brampton’s co-ordinator for fire life safety education revealed that the spike in house fires in the first two weeks in May this year has been the highest ever. Brampton firefighters have dealt with 16 residential blazes, 60 per cent of which were cooking fires, for comparison sake, last year Brampton had just four residential fires in the same period. “In many instances, we find pots that have been left unattended on an open flame to be the cause of fires. In Ontario, 18 per cent of home fires are a result of unattended cooking in the kitchen or propane cooking in summer,” she said.
Brampton firefighters were called to 276 residential cooking fires, which accounted for 24 per cent of all residential fire calls in the period 2010 to 2014. Stove top cooking is the leading cause of household fire in North America. But some of the most shocking statistics reveal that 43.4% of all stovetop fires occur in multi-unit residences and that 63.2% of stovetop fires are in subsidized units. Investigations suggest that most home fires that originate in kitchens occur in the late afternoon and early evening. It is usually when kids and family return home from school or work. It points to the possibility of distractions.
“A child needs a mother’s attention and she could well be pulled away from the stove. It happens,” says Ms Hickey.
One reason why damage is minimized and countless lives are saved is because Canadian firefighters respond to a 911 call and are at the scene of the fire within minutes. “On the way, these firemen pull up information about the structure, this helps them pre-plan and it saves precious time,” says Ms Hickey.
But fighting fires in a Brampton where there are hundreds if not thousands of homes having one, two and even three units at times can be an additional challenge. Needless to say there are often two or three kitchens in a single house. Unless the second unit is legal and registered, there is no way the firemen responding to a fire can prepare ahead of time. This delay needlessly ends up risking loss of lives and property.
According to Ms Hickey, this is one reason homeowners should register their second units. The Fire Department could ensure that it meets all the fire safety codes. “Owners of second units should make sure that there is a fire door with a fire resistance rating, electrical safety and of course working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors,” she said.
Brampton currently has 2,379 registered two-unit dwellings and it is a given that an even largere number remain unregistered. In many instances garages have been converted into full-fledged kitchens and living space. If fires break out in homes which don’t meet any safety or fire codes, homeowners are simply risking their own lives and the lives of their tenants.
Some suggest that tenants should only rent basement units that are certified legal for their own safety, but any tenant and real estate agent would tell you that they rarely if ever come across legalized rental units in homes especially in the Peel Region. Many units are sadly fire traps.
Here is a link from Brampton Fire & Emergency Services https://youtu.be/ht2edh4Bd9U – CINEWS