Fire Marshal's report into EG fatal fire sparks call for
mutual aid improvements
An improperly maintained clothes dryer vent which caught fire, coupled
with the absence of a main floor smoke alarm were the contributing
factors in the March 29, 2013 fatal fire that killed four family
members inside their Sharon, East Gwillimbury home, according to the
final report of the Ontario Fire Marshal's office released this morning
at a press conference in Toronto.
Specifically the Fire Marshal's report cites the following factors:
The clothes dryer was not installed or maintained as per
dryer manufacturer's instructions;
There was no smoke alarm on the main floor, delaying the
discovery of the fire by the occupants;
Given the lack of a smoke alarm on the main floor, there
was a delay in the subsequent notification to the fire department;
By the time the second floor smoke alarm activated, fire
conditions were such, that escape down the central staircase was no
longer possible, trapping the family in the master bedroom;
At the time of arrival by emergency services, the fire
conditions were such, that survival of the occupants and rescue by the
firefighters was untenable.
"Collectively, these factors highlight the need for Ontario families to
have a better understanding of the value of smoke alarms, the need to
develop and practise home escape plans that accommodate those with
cognitive or physical limitations, and that by doing so, they will
ensure that first responders have the best chance of conducting a
rescue, and performing suppression activities."
In the days after the fire, there were suggestions the deaths could
have been been prevented if East Gwillimbury employed full-time
firefighters, rather than part-time. Additionally, why Newmarket fire
department which is a full-time service was dispatched immediate under
the mutual aid agreement. This fire took place in the midst of New
Tecumseth council debating the issue of hiring six full-time
firefighters Monday to Fridays during "business hours."
Ontario Fire Marshal Ted Wieclawek told the media this morning his
office will be in contact with fire departments across the province to
faciliate improvements to mutual aid pacts.
New Tecumseth's Fire Services has mutual aid agreements with
Adjala-Tosorontio, Essa, Innisfil, and Bradford West Gwillimbury, as
well provides fire service support/coverage for other Simcoe County
"Municipalities must ensure they have the necessary staffing, resources
in place if they expect them to perform rescue and suppression
activities in a timely manner," Fire Marshal Wieclawek told the press.
"By entering into a fire protection agreement or automatic aid
agreement will allow you to coordinate resources in a more effective
and efficient manner, then you should be doing that."
At this post, New Tecumseth Fire Chief Dan Heydon said he wanted to
read the final report before commenting.
"'I was aware of some of the initial investigation findings but I
haven't seen the final investigation report," said Chief Heydon via
email. "Once I have a look at the final report I'll be in a better
position to respond."