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Is three bucks a year too pricey for fire safety?

Street's smoke alarm fail prompts plea from Deputy Chief
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One in five homes has a working smoke alarm when firefighters are called to a house fire, according to Barrie Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Weber. 

He says it's a statistic consistent with findings in other fire departments. 

And it's cause for alarm, Weber says, especially given the fact that fires grow at a rapid pace because of the products we now have in our homes.

"Our clothing, our furniture is made out of fuel. All that stuff burns and when it burns it burns hot and it burns with a lot of black smoke.  It's acrid, it's choking and it will kill very quickly," said Weber.  "And when that stuff does burn, smoke makes it almost impossible for you to see your way out of your home. The earlier the warning the better for everybody."

Weber says fire departments have been hammering home the safety message for 25 years.

"Why is the message not sticking? It's discouraging," Weber said.

The question was raised after a house fire this week on Highview Road where smoke alarms saved a family who escaped unhurt. 

Yet when firefighters did an After The Fire blitz on the street, there was a "dismal" 78 per cent failure rate.

Public Fire and Life Safety officer Samantha Hoffmann says one family's smoke detector was 30-years old with no power. 

The devices only last for ten years.

"People don’t know what they don’t know and when it comes to the lifespan of smoke alarms I would say most people have no idea that they don’t last forever!" said Hoffmann.

Deputy Chief Weber wants to remind Barrie residents that they are responsible for their own fire safety.

The chilling fact is, according to Weber,  if you're not standing on the front porch when the fire department arrives, you might not survive a fire.

If you can put a price on the lives of your loved ones, he calculates it would cost about $3.20 a year.

"Go to some of the best, top-notch smoke and CO combination alarms and they're going to cost about 32 bucks a piece," said Weber. "But they're going to last for ten years, so that's $3.20 a year. It's chump change. It's not a big cost to ensure your family's lives."

The CO detectors should be close to the bedrooms in your house to protect against the silent killer. 

Weber's plea to Barrie residents is to "please please check your smoke alarm,

"If it's ten years old replace it. Make sure it has fresh batteries," Weber said. "If you need help, call the fire department. We'd be more than happy to help."