Lack of Fire Detection Plays Role in Two Fatal Hamilton Fires

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Lack of Fire Detection Plays Role in Two Fatal Hamilton Fires

Smoke Alarms are Critical in Detecting and Warning Occupants of Fire

October 12, 2016

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) is confirming that there was a lack of fire detection and warning as it continues its investigations into two recent fatal fires in which six people perished in the City of Hamilton.

Preliminary investigative findings from the October 1st fire at 191 Grenfell Street revealed four smoke alarms within the residence; one had a functional battery and the other three had no batteries. However, due to the placement of the functional smoke alarm, the alarm did not operate. It was too far away to detect heat and smoke from the fire’s origin.

With respect to the August 6th fatal fire at 70 Niagara Street, preliminary investigation results revealed the remains of one smoke alarm from the main floor. There was no corresponding battery located and due to the extensive fire damage to the alarm, it could not be tested further. Witness statements and survivor interviews report no audible alarm.

The OFMEM will continue its comprehensive investigation into the origin and cause of these fires with the assistance of Hamilton Fire Department and Hamilton Police Services.


“Early detection and warning by smoke alarms would have provided these victims with more time to escape. Fire Prevention Week is underway and with these recent fires, homeowners should be reminded to have smoke alarms installed on every storey and outside all sleeping areas of their homes. Fire safety needs to be a priority.”

--Wayne Romaine, Supervisor, Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Fire Investigations Unit

“People often think that a fire will never happen to them. However, every year most fire related injuries and deaths occur in the home, a place where most of us feel the safest. Many fatal fires occur at night when everyone is asleep, so early warning and understanding how to safely escape a fire in your home is crucial to your survival.”

--David Cunliffe, Fire Chief, Hamilton Fire Department


Steps to ensure your smoke alarms are working:

  • Change batteries in smoke alarms at least once a year.
  • Test smoke alarms every month to ensure they are working.
  • Check the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm. It should be replaced 10 years from that date.

Carol Gravelle,
Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management,
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