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January 11, 2013
Toronto Fire Services says majority of 2011 fatal fires result of non-functioning or no smoke alarms
Toronto Fire Chief Jim Sales said today that of 16 fatal fires in Toronto in 2011, the majority were the result of no smoke alarms or non-functioning smoke alarms on the premises, which resulted in increased time for the fire to be detected and reported to 911. The 16 fatal fires (one of which was a vehicle fire) resulted in 18 deaths.

"I want to make it clear that the majority of these fatalities could have been prevented with functioning smoke alarms," said Chief Sales. "Fire trucks were available and responded as soon as possible to these fires. There is no evidence that trucks being out of service affected the outcome of these fires."

The average response time was 5.22 minutes for 15 of the 16 fatal fires. This is well below Toronto Fire's standard response time of 6.47 minutes 90 per cent of the time.

The number of structure fires in Toronto from the 10-year period from 2002 to 2011 has shown a steady decline from 213 to 122. The average number of fatal fires over the 10-year period from 2002 to 2011 was 13.2, with the number of fatalities remaining steady over the same period with an average of 16.1. Preliminary statistics for 2012 indicate 11 fatalities, which is the lowest since 2006, when the City also experienced 11 fatalities.

Chief Sales also stressed that the City's proposed 2013 Tax Supported Operating Budget recommendation to eliminate 101 vacant firefighter positions and eliminate five fire trucks would have a minimal impact on current operations. These changes would increase the average response times city-wide by one second for the first truck and by five seconds for the second responding truck.

The budget was approved by the City's Executive Committee yesterday and will be considered by City Council at its meeting on January, 15, 16 and 17.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.7 million people. Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can dial 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Media Contact
Debbie Higgins
Deputy Chief, Fire Prevention and Public Education



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