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Buyer Beware: Illegal Smoke and CO Alarms Being Sold Online

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Ontario Fire Marshal Message about Alarm Markings

Ontario Fire Marshal Introduction

Residential fires burn hotter, faster, and more toxic than ever before, which is why we place so much emphasis on public fire safety education and fire safety standards and enforcement – the first two lines of the three lines of defence. It is when the first two lines of defence fail, that we are left with the third and final line of defense, emergency response.

Fire services in Ontario’s best fire prevention and public education success story has been the increased widespread trust and adoption that only working smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms will help save lives.

Online Buying Issue

A little over a year ago, an issue was brought to the attention of the OAFC’s Fire Prevention and Public Education Committee (FPPE), whereby online retailers were selling smoke and CO alarms in Ontario without meeting the proper Canadian or Ontarian standards.  Our FPPE Committee, comprised of members from the OAFC, the Ontario Association of Fire Educators (OAFE), the Ontario Municipal Fire Prevention Officer’s Association (OMFPOA), and the Ontario Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM), immediately took action and began a series of meeting with Health Canada to see what we could do to remove these illegal devices from Ontario’s marketplace.

As you know, any smoke or CO alarm sold in Canada must comply with the appropriate Canadian standards.  For example, UL Canada’s safety certification services include testing, evaluation and factory surveillance of products to Canadian and international standards for safety. These certifications enhance the safety of products as well as the public’s confidence in their compliance.

Research conducted by the OFMEM showed that multiple online retailors (Amazon, WalMart, eBay, and others) are listing and selling smoke and CO alarms through third party vendors in Ontario without meeting the appropriate standards – missing the ULC certification marks.  These third-party sellers are selling products outside of the host websites control, thus making enforcement of Canadian standards problematic.

Responding Actions

To help counter this, the OAFC, OAFE, OMFPOA, OFMEM, and Health Canada have partnered together on a public education campaign to remind Ontarians (and Canadians) to always look for the appropriate seals when purchasing smoke or CO alarms online, or in-person. We would ask that you help support this safety campaign. 

Below, you will find key messages, social media posts, and a link to the announcement from Health Canada.  You can even create your own content based on the materials provided below.  We need your help to make sure our residents know what mark to look for when purchasing new smoke or CO alarms!

Key Messages
  • When purchasing smoke and CO alarms, always check for the appropriate marks to ensure they comply with Canadian standards. 
  • Recognized Canadian certification marks such as CSA, cUL, ULC or cETL, should appear directly on the product – not just the packaging.
  • Only working smoke and CO alarms can protect you and your family.
  • Clean and test your smoke and CO alarms every month.
  • Replace your smoke and CO alarm batteries every six months, replace expired alarms (any alarm older than 10 years of age) and consider installing 10-year sealed battery alarms.