Warning issued over household ventilation units
**By Jessica Mcdiarmid
Special to The Hamilton Spectator
**(Dec 20, 2006) A Burlington fire that injured two firefighters will lead to a national safety warning about a common home ventilation system.
Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs), manufactured by Venmar Ventilation Inc., are suspected to be the source of a September fire that caused $500,000 in damage and left a family homeless.
Following its investigation report released Thursday, the Burlington Fire Department and the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) have issued a public safety warning about Venmar HRVs. The OFM is working with the Electrical Safety Authority to notify the rest of Canada as well as the United States. There are roughly 246,000 affected units in Canada and 66,000 in the United States.
Ben Rotsma, education officer at the fire department, said they have been suspicious of HRVs for several months after reports from residents of overheating and smoke from the units.
When the report verified their concerns, the department decided to notify residents of the risk immediately.
Ed Gulbinas, manager of applied research at the OFM, said Venmar responded to requests for information only after the fire marshal told the company it was releasing a public safety warning last Friday.
Venmar launched a “safety upgrade” on Sunday night, offering to provide extra fire prevention devices free of charge. Spokesperson Scott Stevens said the fire risk is very minimal, but 14 incidents involving HRVs have been reported, including fires. Affected units include brands Venmar, vanEE, Flair, Sears and Guardian by Broan. Anyone with these units should check the website www.venmar.ca or call 1-866-441-4645.