Recently introduced Bill 77, called “The Hawkins-Gignac Act”, came into effect on April 15th, making it mandatory for all households to have a carbon monoxide detector installed.
For John Gignac, the bill holds a special place in his heart.
Back in 2008, Gignac lost his niece Laurie, her husband, and their two children, to carbon monoxide poisoning. Now, the 34 year veteran firefighter spends his time as co-chair of the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education. While he admits that it’s a shame it took a tragedy like this to start the conversation, his goal is to ensure other families are safe from ‘the silent killer.’
“The most important thing for me is the fact that it’s remembering Laurie and Richard and the two children, so this bill will remember them for years to come.”
Carbon monoxide is so dangerous because it is odorless, tasteless, and cannot been seen, making the need for CO detectors even more apparent. Gignac points to the growth in smoke alarm awareness as a campaign to mirror in educating the public about carbon monoxide.
“We want everyone to change their thinking from just smoke alarms to CO alarms. They’re both equally important.”
As part of the introduction campaign surrounding Bill 77, Gignac is going to communities throughout Ontario to raise awareness, as well as donate carbon monoxide detectors. His stop in London brought him to the London Fire Department where he donated 75 CO detectors, which will be given to those who do not have the means to purchase the detectors themselves.
While households with 5 units or less are now required to have a CO detector, buildings over the 5 unit threshold will have until October to install the detectors. Gignac points to the need to work with the community to ensure all households are properly fitted, giving landlords with multiple households the time to fund such an installation period.
London Fire Chief John Kobarda echoed Gignac’s sentiment that the Bill isn’t being implemented to punish those without a detector, but instead to educate the community on the importance of protecting yourself.
“We will be advising people and doing the education that it is the law. We will be asking officers to report to our fire prevention division, and individuals could be ticketed, which is about a $ 360 fine.”
If your CO detector goes off, you should immediately get out of your house and call 911. It is important to keep your windows closed, as it will be easier for the source of the leak to be detected if the area can be contained.
For more information, you can go to endthesilence.ca.