Carbon Monoxide fines to be handed out for no alarm
By Mandy Matthews
Ontarians will be fined $235 if they do not have a working carbon monoxide alarm inside their home by Wednesday.
The new law is not being enforced until Wednesday because it was given a six month grace period to allow Ontario to educate the population about the risks with their appliances.
Twitter feeds have been consumed with tweets from fire departments and various accounts, such as Fire Safety Council, all pushing for people to protect themselves against the deadly gas. In under 140 characters, Windsor Fire tweets, “It is against the law to remove batteries or tamper with CO alarms in any way.”
This carbon monoxide education is in support of Bill 77 – the Hawkins Gignac Act passed in October of last year. In 2008, OPP Constable Laurie Hawkins along with her family died inside their home in Woodstock due to CO poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and toxic gas that can be deadly if certain precautions aren’t taken to prevent it from building up, said Tecumseh fire prevention officer, Bob Hamilton.
“A lot of times what we are finding is that they’re just too old, but certainly don’t panic if your alarms going off at two in the morning,” said Hamilton. “The fire department gets there and says it’s too old, so sometimes it can be an embarrassment to the resident, but that doesn’t matter because that’s what were here for.”
Both departments will be scouting out neighbourhoods to make sure homeowners with fuel burning appliances have working alarms. Tecumseh fire is planning on giving people a bit of a second chance by lending them a loaner CO alarm for up to five days before they get one of their own.
For owners of residential buildings with more than six suites, like the one Becky Ross lives in on Tecumseh Rd E., have until October of this year to bring they’re buildings up to code.
“I’m not super concerned,” said Ross. “It’s a new building, so everything’s pretty new here. I’m not so much concerned about having any carbon monoxide poisoning in that way.”
Despite the departments efforts to educate the public about the new law, Ross never heard anything about it.
“I’ll ask my landlord when I pay the rent next month, but nothing was ever mentioned to me,” said Ross.”
Windsor Fire and Rescue Services respond almost daily to CO calls. Windsor fire prevention officer, John Lee said the six month grace period was put in place for educational purposes.
“We’ve done a lot of advertising and tweeting and print media,” said Lee. “Our crews are out educating people everyday of the new law.”
Carbon monoxide alarms regularly range between $30 to $40 in price. They vary in warranties and Hamilton said they are finding that the five year model is losing its power around four years.
Since CO is a gas that builds up over time, Hamilton said it is imperative to make sure homeowners are tracking and checking their appliances and gadgets.
“We button up our houses every year; during winter time and we don’t want to leave those houses. So everything stays within,” said Hamilton. “And in newer homes, the way we build new homes nowadays, we’re almost living in a plastic bubble.”
Although, the misconception of carbon monoxide poisoning being a seasonal concern, Hamilton said it’s threat to be worried about all year round.