$5,000 Fine Issued over Arthur Residence Lacking a Working Smoke Alarm

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An article by Vik Kirsch of the Guelph Mercury on Wednesday November 23, 2011.

ARTHUR — North Wellington fire prevention officer Jason Benn is hopeful a recent $5,000 fine in a Guelph court is a wake-up call that people must have working smoke alarms in their residences.

Benn said there were gasps from the courtroom’s public gallery when the sharp fine was levied.

“I think that sends a message,” Benn said Tuesday.

On a fire safety inspection July 5, officials from Wellington North Fire Services entered a rental farmhouse east of Arthur, on Wellington County Road 109, at the request of Ontario Provincial Police investigating a possible marijuana-growing operation.

Inspection by firefighters found insufficient smoke alarms and one that wasn’t working.

The fine was levied Nov. 16 in Guelph against a Mississauga landlord for failing to maintain working smoke alarms in the rental property, contrary to the Ontario Fire Code.

Fire alarms are required, Benn said, on each floor of a dwelling. The preferred location is outside bedroom areas on those levels where people sleep.

Benn said fire officials are increasingly focusing on fire alarms and taking action against transgressions. Though that hasn’t yet reached the point of zero tolerance, Benn said it’s not far off the mark these days.

As to fines, the $5,000 one in this latest incident isn’t the stiffest he’s encountered to date.

“It’s not the highest fine I’ve ever seen.” He recalled one in which a landlord was given a fine of about $15,000, though that was for a few fire code transgressions.

vkirsch@guelphmercury.com