Earlier this week, the Stittsville community came together once again to support one another during an extreme icy weather event. Many homes remained without power for over 24 hours as one household in particular found itself the victim of an electrical fire that escalated into a situation in which two volunteer firefighters fell through a collapsed floor.
I am happy to share that everyone involved in the incident is now okay and no life-threatening injuries were sustained. One of the firefighters was discharged from hospital the following day and the other’s condition continues to improve as they continue through the recovery process.
Upon looking into the cause of the fire, it was determined that some customers experienced damage to their surge protector on their electrical panels. To facilitate safe and expedient re-energization, Hydro Ottawa contracted the services of a certified electrical contractor to disconnect the damaged surge protector at no cost to affected households. As a result, I reached out to David McConnell, General Manager of the Electrical Safety Authority who had the following information to provide on the devices for any other concerned homeowners:
- What is the function of a surge protector?
- Surge protectors are engineered to absorb voltage spikes or disturbances which can occur for a variety of reasons such as lightning strikes or solar flares. By the surge being absorbed by the surge protector, it should protect any sensitive equipment downstream such as computers, televisions or motors which are connected to the wiring at the time of the event.
- Does every home have one?
- No, they are not required to be installed by any local codes or standards. Some power bars do have built in surge protection which is intended to protect any equipment plugged into it from a disturbance.
- How often do they need to be checked/do they have a shelf life?
- They do not have a shelf life however should be checked regularly to ensure that they are still functioning properly. Most surge protectors have indicating lights which will be illuminated when the device is operational. However if the lights are not illuminated this would suggest that the device is no longer providing adequate protection and should be replaced.
- Why do some homes need to be inspected during this particular power surge and not others?
- After any power surge, homeowners should ensure that the electrical equipment is functioning properly. The best way to do this is to hire a Licensed Electrical contractor to verify that there was no damage to any of the systems in the home. The most common issues are sensitive devices such as electronics but hardwired smoke detectors can also be impacted as well as GFCI receptacles, which help protect people from shocks when near water.
- Anything else you might consider useful information?
- Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) for any electrical work that needs to be done. You can find a list of LEC’s on our web site at esasafe.com. I’ve as well attached some information you are welcome to share with the public. We are currently in the process of distributing this letter to the affected residences.
As mentioned, surge protectors are not required by code for electrical panels. However, if residents who had their protectors removed by Hydro crews are still interesting in having one, a new surge protector can be installed without cutting power to the house by a licensed electrician for about $300.
I hope that residents find this information useful.
I am happy to also share the following comments from Fire Chief, Gerry Pingitore as thanks to the community:
As Fire Chief, I am always overwhelmed with gratitude by the community’s care and thoughtfulness for Ottawa Fire Services staff. I am happy to report that the firefighters involved in yesterday’s fire on Snowberry Way are doing well.
[…] We appreciate the community’s concern for the firefighters that serve their community at Stations 81 and 46. We appreciate their desire to assist and show their support during this difficult time. Your continued encouragement, support and prayers are the best and only gift we can hope to receive. Alternatively, residents are invited to visit Fire Station 81 on Saturday, June 2 for Doors Open Ottawa. This will give the community the opportunity to meet the men and women who dedicate their time and efforts as volunteer firefighters.
Heavy freezing rain on Sunday and Monday caused downed trees, power lines and damaged hydro poles. More than 72,000 customers were out of power at the height of the storm, with more than 200 separate outages needing repair.
I would like to openly thank the Hydro Ottawa crews who worked around the clock this week, checking residents’ electrical panels door-to-door until the power was able to be safely restored. I would also like to thank GRC staff for their consideration in helping out the community by providing an area where residents may warm up with a hot beverage and take a hot shower as well as the kind and generous residents through social media who offered to open their doors to those in need.
Last and certainly not least, I would like to send my sincerest thanks and best wishes to the Ottawa Fire Services team and the two firefighters injured during Monday’s blaze. I applaud our men and women who have taken on the responsibilities of being a fire fighter. These individuals have chosen a path of selfless service – a service to protect the community. Stittsville is very fortunate to have such a dedicated team of experienced men and women who do so much for the community both on and off the job.
From the bottom of my heart, on behalf of the community, THANK YOU.