Mother not happy with answers regarding her son’s death in Windsor fire
The mother of a University of Windsor student is still not happy with the answers she is getting about the investigation into her son’s death.
Jennifer Depooter held a news conference in Windsor on Monday. Her son, 19-year-old Andrew Kraayenbrink, died in a house fire on Rankin Ave. in October 2016.
Depooter wants to know why the Ontario Fire Marshal’s report was heavily redacted when it was presented to city council last month.
Windsor Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Andrea Dejong says they are not hiding anything, and the document was redacted as a result of provincial legislation.
Windsor fire prevention officer John Lee read an excerpt of the report in council chambers on Nov. 20, stating “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."
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,” Ontario Fire Marshal supervisor Manny Garcia told CTV News last week. “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, the smoke alarm 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 Dejong.
She 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.
Depooter is also very critical of the fire safety initiatives in Windsor, quoting stats from the Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative that claims Windsor had the highest number of fire fatalities in three of the last five years.
“This is not something your city can be proud of,” said Depooter. “I sent my son to your city for an education, a brilliant young man. Had I known these numbers, these statistics, my son would never have attended university here.”
Council last month stopped short of approving a residential rental licensing system, but members will revisit the issue in 2018.
Mike Cardinal supports the idea of a licensing system. He tells CTV Windsor the city should implement a program similar to the one that exists in the Waterloo area.
“I do believe sincerely and factually based on Waterloo's experience as well as other cities that have the residential rental license in place that it will save lives,” says Cardinal.
Dejong adds they have programs for landlords that detail their responsibilities.
She also tells CTV News they are launching a new program next year for students who are living on their own for the first time that outlines their rights to ensure their safety.