County on guard against silent killer

The County of Brant Fire Department is one step closer to ensuring every home in the county is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.

The department received a donation of 156 combination smoke and CO alarms from Enbridge Gas Inc. on Friday afternoon as part of the utility company’s Project Zero – a public education campaign meant to improve home safety and bring fire and CO-related deaths down to zero.

“We’re committed to educating the public about the importance of having fuel-burning appliances inspected annually by a licensed contractor,” Enbridge field supervisor Al Duesling, said. “And of installing our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as a second line of defence.”

County of Brant fire prevention officer Jeff Balkwill said the alarms will be distributed to the county’s most vulnerable citizens. They are equipped with 10-year batteries.

Two smoke alarm/CO alarm programs are currently operating in the county, including one that provides free alarms and alarm installations to seniors.

“We have another program for members of the community who might not be able to afford them,” Balkwill said. “We provide alarms to them free of charge.”

The department continues to aim for complete compliance of smoke and CO alarm installations.

“We still go to places where someone might have a smoke alarm or someone might have a CO alarm, which is still kind of shocking,” Balkwill added. “We really want to see everyone have both because the issue with carbon monoxide is that it is colourless, odourless and tasteless, so you don’t really know it’s in your house if you don’t have an alarm.”

About 15 per cent of the department’s alarm calls are CO related.

“Many of those are calls that could be detrimental to people’s health,” said Balkwill.

Many of the donated alarms have already been issued to the Salvation Army where they will be distributed through the food bank and Christmas hamper programs. Fire trucks will also carry the alarms to be distributed to local homes.

About $275,000 was donated province-wide by Enbridge in 2019. Over the past 11 years Project Zero has provided over 44,350 alarms to provincial fire departments.

“We do have a long history of supporting the communities we serve and safety is our number one priority,” Duesling said. “I’d like to commend the County of Brant Fire Department and the Fire Marshall’s Public Safety Council for their dedication to the safety and education of this matter.”