Homes in Woolwich are now safer than they were five years ago, the result of a 2004 decision by the Woolwich Fire Department to visit every house to check smoke alarms. “It was just so vital and so important,” said fire prevention officer Bill Cronin of the recently concluded program.
“It was vital to the safety of the occupants of the township – no question.”
The smoke alarm program saw volunteer firefighters call on residents with the intention of testing existing smoke alarms, educating the household about the dos and don’ts of the provincially mandated units, and providing non-compliant residents with new, functioning units.
In those five years, firefighters inspected, by invitation, 5,489 homes; 768 of those were found to be noncompliant. Homes in which no smoke alarms were present, or in which smoke alarms were found to be faulty or inoperable – often as a result of dead batteries – were categorized as non-compliant. Through the program, 605 smoke alarms were installed; 371 batteries were installed; and only 91 times were firefighters refused entry.
Smoke alarms were installed by firefighters for an optional donation, and dead batteries were replaced.
“We never left a home unprotected, whether they could afford it or not,” said Cronin.
At the end of it all, Cronin said he is pleased with residents’ response and with the efforts of his firefighters.
“The importance of a smoke alarm cannot be overstated; it is a number-one line of defense that every home’s got not only to have a working smoke alarm but to actually practice the fire drill at home,” said Cronin, adding that practicing a smoke escape plan with the family is also crucial.
Residents who may have been missed by the department who would like to have their homes inspected, or who may have any related questions, may contact the department at 519-664-2887.