03/09/2012 01:26 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Fire department stresses smoke alarm safety

Montreal's fire department is urging people to make what could be a life-saving decision to ensure all smoke alarms in their home are functional.

Firefighters are touring the island and knocking on doors this weekend to remind people to make sure their devices are installed and working.

Last year, they inspected 100,000 homes and found 30 per cent did not have working smoke detectors.

In 2011, 16 people died on the island of Montreal in fires.

Of those, 80 per cent had no smoke alarms in their home or the devices weren’t functioning.

Pierre Sigouin of the Montreal fire department's fire prevention division, said the number of non-functioning alarms they've found in their routine semi-annual inspections has been around the same for the last decade.

They want to see that figure drop, along with the number of fatal fires that may have been survivable had there been a smoke alarm.

"We don't lose people in commercial centres, in offices," he said. "We lose people in residential fires, so this is why it is important."

Fatal fires in Montreal in 2011

Dec. 9: Rousselot Street (Villeray)

- 28-year-old man dies in an apartment fire in the Villeray district. The building’s alarms were working, but there was no smoke detector in the apartment.

Nov. 11: St-RémiStreet (St-Henri)

Nov. 4: St-Jean Boulevard (Pointe-Claire)

- A mother and her teenage son were killed in an apartment fire in Pointe-Claire. Fire officials said their apartment didn’t have a smoke detector.

Oct. 6: Lacombe Avenue (Côte-des-Neiges)

Aug. 17: Rushbrooke Street (Verdun)

- A couple, their son and the family dog die after a fire breaks out in their apartment. A smoke detector found in the unit did not have batteries.

June 18: Notre Dame Street West (Verdun)

June 16: Provost (LaSalle)

May 23: De Maisonneuve Boulevard (Ville-Marie)

March 2: Van Horne Avenue (Côte-des-Neiges)

- A 26-year-old woman and a 21-year-old woman die after fire breaks out in an apartment building. The building’s smoke alarms cut out shortly after the fire started and many residents didn’t hear it. A coroner’s report also found fire crews were delayed by problems with their dispatch system.

Feb. 3: Prince Arthur Street (Plateau)

Jan. 17: Alma Street (Petite-Patrie)