The Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM) is using a video it calls « disturbing » to remind people of the importance of having working smoke alarms.
The video posted to their Twitter account mostly features audio of what sounds like a child, crying hysterically, calling 911 for help, as sounds of flames could be heard in the background.
The young the caller can be heard crying and asking the operator on the other end to hurry up because « there’s smoke everywhere ».
The caller also tells the dispatcher that they are stuck in a basement with their mother and she « wasn’t waking up! »
The video ends with text that reads, « Did you notice what you didn’t hear? There were no working smoke alarms. They did not survive. Smoke alarms save lives.
OFM public relations manager Sean Driscoll told the Toronto Star the video is not a real call made by someone, but that the message is « absolutely real », adding that the agency did not « want to re-traumatize anyone ».
The initial tweet didn’t state whether it was a genuine 911 call, but included a warning that the content « may be upsetting or distressing to those experiencing trauma. »
According to Driscoll, the video is part of the OFM’s smoke detector awareness campaign in an attempt to combat the rising rate of deaths from fires.
“We know that September starts fall. It is between fall and winter that we see these incidents and deaths increase. Our statistics prove it.
Although he admitted that the video is “hard to watch. It’s hard to digest,” he added, it’s still important for people to know, “the simple fact that working smoke alarms save lives. The statistics confirm it. »
Most people interacting with the video agree with that sentiment, with the original post receiving over 100 retweets as of midday.
Driscoll said the OFM has seen an increase in cases of fatal fires where people don’t have working smoke alarms. According to him, since September 22, there have been 80 fires that have caused deaths and 96 people have died.
Since 2006, the law in Ontario requires that all homes have a working smoke alarm for each bedroom and on each floor of a property.
“These are families that perish. They are young children. What we noticed when we sent our investigators into these fires is that there are no working smoke alarms,” Driscoll said. “We have seen smoke alarms that have passed their expiration date. We’ve seen smoke alarms where a battery has been removed, or maybe a piece of tape has covered the alarm itself.
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