‘It made a difference:’ OFM says about smoke alarm placement after fatal Windsor fire
It's been over a year since a fatal fire on Windsor's west end claimed the life of a University of Windsor student.
Andrew Kraayenbrink, 19, died after the blaze at 227 Rankin Avenue on Oct. 26, 2016.
Just recently, the Ontario Fire Marshal released its report about the incident and it states that the main floor smoke alarm could have been placed in a better location.
According to Windsor fire, it's not enough to warrant criminal charges.
Kraayenbrink’s family is still dealing with the loss.
“The last sound they heard, was Andrew cough, and then, he went silent,” said his mother Jennifer Depooter in a previous interview. “They could not re-enter to help him. They slid down the roof, only to watch as the fire inside raged, knowing Andrew was inside."
The next day, both the Ontario Fire Marshal and Windsor fire investigated.
Windsor fire prevention officer John Lee read an excerpt of it aloud in council chambers on Nov. 20.
“The Ontario fire code required in an existing home, that there's one per level, this clearly identifies there's one per level, and all were operational at the time of the incident," said Lee.
What Lee didn't mention, was the opinion of the investigating fire marshal, who said a smoke alarm was void in the area of the main floor bedroom, and in his opinion, a smoke alarm would be required in that area.
“It made a difference,” says Ontario Fire Marshal supervisor Manny Garcia. “As far as the author and myself are concerned, it didn't offer protection to the floor on the first floor as it should have."
Instead, it was located on the ceiling of a stairwell landing between the basement and kitchen.
“In this case, there wasn't a corridor outside of the bedroom, so it becomes up to the homeowner to locate it to the best of their ability," says Deputy Fire Chief Andrea Dejong.
Dejong says what it boils down to is a gray area in the fire code, where the property owner was not 100 per cent in compliance, but wasn't disregarding the law, either.
“We were both in agreement that it didn't warrant charges being made because it was just too open to interpretation and in most cases, wouldn't stand the test in court,” says Dejong. “It has to be very black and white, and in this case, it wasn't."
Garcia says the OFM made its interpretation based on fire dynamics, but for it to hold up in court, there must be a reasonable expectation of conviction.
“Is that enough to convict a guy, and I'm going to say to you that may be a hard sell," says Garcia.
Garcia says it's impossible to know whether a properly placed smoke alarm could have saved Kraayenbrink's life.
“I think that if we could have bought that kid another 15 seconds, another 15 seconds, yeah, every second does count," says Garcia.
CTV News attempted to reach Krayeenbrink's mother Jennifer Depooter on Friday, but didn't receive a call back.