October 12, 2016 - As part of Fire Prevention Week October 9 to 15, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) are encouraging residents to take action to reduce the risk of house fires.

"In a matter of minutes a home can be completely engulfed in flames," said Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Chief John Hay. "Knowing how old your smoke alarms are and testing them monthly to ensure they are working properly is critical for helping people safely escape a fire."

The theme this year for Fire Prevention Week is Don't Wait - Check the Date! Replace smoke alarms every 10 years. Residents are being reminded to check their smoke alarms and replace them if they are older than 10 years. Knowing how old a smoke alarm is can be as simple as looking at the manufacture date on the back of the alarm.

Many residential house fires in Thunder Bay are caused by smoking and because of this the TBDHU is strongly encouraging landlords of multi-unit housing and their tenants to consider adopting smoke-free housing policies for their buildings.

"As smoking is a leading cause of residential fires, policies that reduce smoking in such buildings have an additional benefit," said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janet DeMille. "Not only do these policies protect all residents from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, they also protect residents from the potentially disastrous consequences of fires by significantly reducing the risk of fires occurring."

According to a 2014 report by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, 89 per cent of adults in Ontario think that smoking should not be allowed in multi-unit housing. Smoke-free policies are legal and enforceable and can significantly improve the health and well-being of those living in multi-unit housing.

For more information, call the TBDHU at 625-8800 or visit: thunderbay.ca/fire or smokefreehousingon.ca

- 30 -

Contact: Anthony Stokaluk, Public Education Officer - Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, 625-2802