By: Mike Anderson

While this fall’s annual open house at the Sutton Fire Hall had all the elements of a fun, family outing — bouncy castles, rides and games for the kids — there was also a serious, underlining message:  fire kills.  And it can kill quickly, and often without warning.

In a typical house fire, you have only two to three minutes to get out safely after a smoke alarm sounds, says Georgina Fire Chief Ron Jenkins.   

And that’s why he says families should plan and practice their escape route before a fire occurs.

Having an escape plan is the theme of this year’s National Fire Prevention Week, which runs from October 6 to 12. 

“The goal of this year’s campaign is to educate people about the small but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe,” says Chief Jenkins.

“Being aware of your surroundings is a skill people need to use wherever they go. Always look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

Getting out fast is vital because most modern homes burn faster, says Chief Jenkins.

Open-concept floor plans, chipboard construction and modern synthetic furniture – referred to as “comfortable gasoline” by firefighters — all contribute to faster burn rates giving you less time to escape.

This fact was driven home by a dramatic side-by-side burn demonstration, which showed how quickly a fire could spread. The living room cell, not equipped with a sprinkler system, was consumed by fire – typically called a flash-over – in less than 2 minutes. 

Fire Demonstration: Less than 2 minutes

What’s also disturbing is that despite years of public education and multiple fire fatalities, fire inspectors still see homes without functioning smoke alarms.

Chief Jenkins says 30 per cent of homes don’t have a working smoke or carbon monoxide alarm – often, homeowners didn’t change the batteries.  And, another 5 per cent have no smoke alarm at all. “Their chances of escape are zero,” says Chief Jenkins.

For more information about Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning visit



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