Reducing deaths and damages from home cooking fires

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Ontario Construction Report special feature

By Sylvia Chirco

According to the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Public Safety Division, combined data from reporting provinces showed a total of 42,753 fires resulting in 224 civilian deaths. The data also shows two firefighter deaths and more than $1.5 billion in direct property damage. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries.

Homeowners and apartment dwellers are at most risk because of inattentiveness. The phone rings, your email needs a quick response, the baby cries. It’s easy to start cooking a meal and then forget it.

An important consideration is that the number of baby boomers is skyrocketing. Mental and physical limitations and prescription drug use contribute to senior cooking fires. Since seniors are the fastest growing group in Canada, this is a wakeup call to those in the senior construction industry.

Builders spend millions constructing beautiful retirement communities that cater to people over 55, but don’t consider that distraction, forgetfulness and memory loss can pose significant dangers to residents who cook.

It’s only smart to encourage cities to look at fire prevention, reduction and suppression equipment and require that it be mandatory in new buildings, just like sprinklers. Among the simplest of existing products available for residential use are range top fire suppression systems. Surely, it is cheaper to quickly snuff out a small fire before it grows to consume an entire building.

Flame-Tamer recently added Guardian Safety Solutions International Inc.’s model Guardian III G300B to its line of products. The Guardian is designed to detect and extinguish cooking fires and prevent re-ignition in private homes, apartments, group housing, senior housing, college campuses, hospitals and other facilities. Even older kitchens can be retrofitted.

Once it detects heat at a pre-determined temperature, the Guardian sends a signal to release an extinguishing agent that suppresses the fire. The Guardian will also shut off the gas or electric supply to the stove in order to prevent reigniting. The design of the system offers automatic operation, continuous 24-hour protection, concealed installation and easy clean-up.

We’d like to suggest that such safety equipment be installed in new buildings of any type with kitchens. The construction industry is the most likely group to lobby for safety changes protecting lives and property, and we are willing to help.

Syliva Chirco is marketing manager of Flame-Tamer Fire & Safety Ltd. www.flametamer.ca, one of the largest fire prevention companies in Canada. It offers a number of products and services, including inspection and testing, product sales, training, mobile recharging and more.

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