Media Release 2016 Peace of Mind for your Piece of Heaven


SafetyFor Immediate Release

Cottagers Urged to Think about Cottage Fire and CO Safety Before Heading North

Toronto, ON, May 18 – Vehicles traveling Ontario’s highways, overflowing with cottage cargo, will soon signal that summer is here. In anticipation, the annual “Peace of Mind for your Piece of Heaven” cottage safety campaign kicked-off today…but this year with a twist. Safety officials are urging all Ontario leisure-seekers to think about fire and carbon monoxide detection – before they hit the road – to ensure they pack smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and fresh batteries so they can protect their families as soon as they arrive.

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management supports the effort and was on hand, to encourage all Ontario urban cottage feeder markets to urge their communities to plan ahead, and enjoy ‘Peace of Mind for your Piece of Heaven’.

“Given the recent fires that devastated northern Alberta and Fort McMurray, as well as large active forest fires burning here in Ontario, the timing to reach cottagers about fire safety and prevention up north is now,” says Ryan Betts, Manager of Public Safety Education, Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. “Emergency response times in remote areas can be significantly longer than in large urban centres like Toronto. Ontarians must take responsibility for their own safety and ensure their camp or cottage is equipped with working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. You must be prepared,” he adds.

“Our goal is simple – to remind everyone that tragedies never take a vacation. Any cottage, trailer or other dwelling, whether owned or rented, must be equipped just like your city home. Protecting your family from the dangers of smoke and carbon monoxide is just as critical in cottage country,” says Jim Jessop, Deputy Fire Chief, Toronto Fire Services.

The event was held at the Toronto Fire and Marine Station 334 on the waterfront. Firefighters set the stage with a demonstration of Toronto’s Fire Rescue Boat’s powerful water cannon, to make the point that when you’re up north, such impressive fire suppression equipment is most likely not available.

“That’s why fire and carbon monoxide prevention and detection take on increased importance when you’re on holiday,” Deputy Fire Chief Jessop adds. “In an emergency a quick, safe escape is paramount because with many cottage locations, they are reachable by water-only or challenging access roads. Professional and volunteer firefighters may not get to you as fast as they might in the city. Evacuating quickly can be the difference between life or death.”

Ontario’s recent mandatory carbon monoxide alarm law also mandates CO alarms outside all sleeping areas in cottages with fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage or carport.

“Propane-fueled lights and appliances, or wood and gas fireplaces and wood stoves, can all emit deadly carbon monoxide,” says John Gignac, Co-Chair of the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education. Gignac advocated for more than five years for the Ontario legislation, named in memory of his four family members who perished from CO poisoning in 2008. The family did not have a CO alarm when the lethal gas seeped back into their home due to a blocked chimney vent.

Every year, Denise Hynes sees the negative outcomes of families not thinking ahead about essential safety wares before heading to the cottage.

“It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of arriving at the cottage and unpacking provisions for a relaxing getaway,” says Hynes, Public Educator for Toronto Fire Services (and proud cottage owner). “Often, safety devices are an afterthought. That’s why Toronto Fire Services urges families to pack smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and other safety supplies before you leave the city. Leaving your family unprotected for even one night is too risky,” she says.

Given the often-seasonal usage of vacation properties, Hynes offers another important reminder. “Alarms do not last forever, even if they are hardwired. You must replace smoke alarms every 10 years, and any CO alarm manufactured before 2009,” she adds. Since time is of the essence when escaping danger, she also suggests upgrading devices to the latest technology such as that found in “Worry-Free” smoke and CO alarm models that have advanced sensors and 10-year sealed batteries that never need changing for the lifespan of the alarm.

Cottagers are also reminded to consider fire extinguishers and escape ladders for their property, and to get acquainted with proper usage guidelines. It is also important for all family members, and guests, to prepare and practise a cottage fire escape plan. A free template is available for download, along with a Cottage Fire and CO Safety Tips Sheet, at


Media Contact: Conrad Galambos, 905-979-7039, [email protected]