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April 23, 2009
Two fire fatalities today continue disturbing trend of residential fires
City of Toronto fire service officials are expressing concern about the large number of fatalities in the first four months of this year - and the predominance of residential fire fatalities. Two deaths today at a fire on Wantanopa Crescent continue that trend. In the first four months of this year, all 12 of fire fatalities that occurred in Toronto involved residential occupancies. Last year, only 12 of the 17 fire-related fatalities that occurred over the full year involved residential occupancies.

Toronto Fire Services is diligent in its pursuit of fire protection, but Toronto continues to suffer preventable deaths and injuries from fires. Since deadly fires usually occur in people’s homes, where they tend to feel safe and secure, Toronto Fire Services is reminding residents of the need to be mindful of the fire protection required by law, and to think about the importance of fire safety in the home.

As a response to the many residential fire fatalities here in 2009, Toronto Fire Services will launch Project Zero on May 5. In this first program of its kind in the City of Toronto, fire inspectors will go door-to-door in the community ensuring:
• there are working smoke alarms on every level of the home and outside sleeping areas
• there is at least one carbon monoxide alarm installed in every home equipped with fuel burning appliances
• homeowners are provided with the necessary information to help keep their homes and families safe by having and practicing a home escape plan.

Smoke alarms, when properly installed and maintained, provide the early warning that is needed to safely escape from a house fire. Where homeowners have already complied with the law by installing smoke alarms on every storey of their home, the alarms will be tested to ensure they are working properly.

Teams of fire inspectors -- in uniform and carrying proper identification - will begin the inspections in the area bounded by Dovercourt Road and Jefferson Avenue to the east, Bloor Street West to the north, Colborne Lodge Road to the west, and Lake Shore Boulevard to the south. Residents who have not installed smoke alarms will be issued a notice of violation and must comply within seven days.

Toronto Fire Services encourages residents to install fire sprinklers in their homes. “Anyone planning major renovations or a new home should also consider having residential sprinklers installed to avoid future tragedies,” said Toronto Fire Chief Bill Stewart. “Residential sprinklers, together with smoke alarms, will greatly enhance fire protection.”

Sprinkler systems will be legally required in new condominiums and apartments taller than three storeys, effective April 1, 2010. Toronto Fire Services’ recommends residential fire sprinklers in all homes as a way to help reduce future fatalities. Since amalgamation in 1998, there have been 226 fire fatalities in the City of Toronto, with 183 of them (81 per cent of the total) occurring in residential occupancies.

Toronto is Canada's largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of Toronto's incorporation as a city. Toronto's government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Jim Stoops, Executive Officer, Toronto Fire Services, 416-522-4532



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