OUR VIEW: Where there’s smoke, there’s confusion

Research reveals smoke alarms save lives, and yet the courts found it "mere conjecture" that an early warning would have prevented injury.

Surrey firefighters fight a duplex fire.

If you’re in the mood to contemplate perplexing civil court decisions, read our story about a Delta couple renting a home without a smoke alarm.

SEE MORE: Delta tenants burned out in fire lose second round in court against landlord who didn’t install smoke alarms

There’s a late-night fire, which kills the couple’s dog. The tenants sue their landlord, telling a judge they didn’t have time to use fire extinguishers they’d purchased because by the time they were awoken the fire was already too big for them to fight.

The couple claims to have badgered the landlord to install smoke alarms, but he didn’t. The trial judge finds the landlord negligent in not installing and maintaining smoke alarms but dismisses the couple’s claim against the landlord because somehow, it’s “mere conjecture” that an early warning would have prevented their injuries.

The couple then launches an appeal, and the Appeal Court denies their claim, finding “no evidence that a smoke alarm would probably have woken the occupants and allowed them to escape before the fire progressed beyond the smoke stage.”

Meantime, in an apparently parallel universe, a study by Surrey city staff and the University of the Fraser Valley revealed that fire damage is reduced by 19 per cent when a working smoke alarm is present and the death rate per 1,000 fires is 74 per cent greater when a working smoke alarm isn’t present.

It’s a head scratcher, for sure. The research says smoke alarms save lives, but the courts say it’s “mere conjecture” that such an early warning system would have prevented the tenants’ injuries in this court case.

What?

The Now

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP investigating after ‘sudden death’ of man found with critical injuries

Police say a man is dead after being found laying on the ground in the 13300-block of 114th Avenue

Kids Boost Immunity honours Surrey school for vaccine donations

Elementary students donate more than 3,000 vaccinations to UNICEF

Teen charged with possession of a loaded firearm after incident at Whalley park

Surrey RCMP say 17-year-old boy allegedly found in possession of loaded handgun

Pug life: Waggish dog names listed in White Rock

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered with the city

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Early data suggests no post-legalization spike in drug-impaired driving charges

Many police departments are prioritizing investigations related to drugs like fentanyl and methamphetamine

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

Olympic auditions return to Lower Mainland

Event an opportunity for unknown athletes to shine and, maybe, change sports

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Most Read