Half of GTA homeowners may be at risk because of outdated or non-functional smoke detectors

MISSISSAUGA, ON, May 16, 2013 /CNW/ -  Inadequate, outdated and non-functional smoke alarms are putting thousands of Toronto and area families at serious risk, said Tim Birnie, owner of Birnie CurrentSAFE in Mississauga.

"We have inspected hundreds and hundreds of homes in the GTA since 2010, and more than half have inadequate protection," said Mr. Birnie, whose company offers a high-tech residential electrical hazard detection program. "Some alarms have expired, some have dead batteries, and, in some cases, people have even disabled them because of nuisance alarms."

What's really alarming, he added, is that more than 30 percent of the inspected homes also contained serious fire hazards related to previously undetected electrical problems. BirnieCurrentSAFE is conducting a public awareness campaign throughout May, which is Electrical Safety Month in North America.

"It has been shown that two-thirds of fire deaths could have been prevented with functioning smoke alarms. What many people don't know is that they may be at risk even with detectors that are hard-wired into the home's electrical system. Electrical fires often knock the home's power out before the alarm sounds. That makes it imperative to have an alarm with battery back-up."

People also don't realize that pushing the 'test' button on the alarm is no guarantee. "The test button simulates an activation, but does not test the unit's ability to detect smoke. You can buy canned smoke to test the detection system. But if the alarm is 10 years old, replace it.

Mr. Birnie recommends alarms with a 'hush' button for kitchen areas to eliminate nuisance alarms while cooking.

Birnie CurrentSAFE is encouraging area families to prepare a fire escape plan, and to practice fire drills. "We are donating $25 to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital for each fire safety plan we receive, and will feature them on our Web site. By sharing, it is our hope more families will take the necessary steps to protect themselves."

Birnie CurrentSAFE provides an online residential home electrical assessment which this month qualifies participants for a no-fee, in-home review, and a chance to win free electricity for a year. The assessment is available at ismyhomesafe.ca.

Birnie Electric, founded in 1967, has a service team with an average of 20 years' electrical experience. They are fully insured, background security checked and covered under WSIB. In addition to delivering the Birnie CurrentSAFE program to residential customers, Birnie Electric provides design/build, electrical contracting and datacomm services to developers and contractors as well as to commercial and industrial businesses throughout Ontario.

SOURCE: Birnie CurrentSAFE

For further information:

Tim Birnie
Birnie CurrentSAFE / Birnie Electric Limited

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Birnie CurrentSAFE

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