Saskatchewan Landlords Association

Smoke Detectors and Fire Safety

October 5, 2013

smoke detector

Should The Government Require Landlords To Install Proper Smoke Detectors for Deaf Renters?

We’ve reported on the importance of ensuring Saskatchewan landlords have working smoke detectors before.

A recent story shows that you might need to buy special equipment if your tenants have different needs

Tenant Made It Out Alive, Barely

Bernard Rachinski rented a room in the Riversdale neighbourhood of Saskatoon.

He was awoken this summer to a flicking doorbell light in the early morning. He saw the light but couldn’t hear it because he is deaf.

Richinski got up and strolled downstairs to see who was ringing the doorbell. As he went down the stairs he smelled a lot of smoke. The smoke quickly got thicker and thicker and he managed to see what was causing it: in the doorway there was a raging fire. The flames cause the doorbell to short which led to the blinking that woke him up and alerted him to the danger.

The entire doorway was ablaze. According to Rachinski “it was so hot the flames were leaping.”

He managed to open a window and find safety outside the house. He believes if he hadn’t gotten out then he might not have made it.

How Did The Fire Start?

Three firefighters were hospitalized after battling the blaze, two for heat exhaustion and another for light smoke inhalation.

Investigators from Saskatoon Fire and Protective Services and Saskatoon Police have determined that the fire was set deliberately. Richinski believes it may have started by someone throwing something in the front door of the house.

Smoke Detectors Designed for the Deaf

Rachinski’s intertrepeter is a friend named Nairn Gilles. Gilles is a job couch with Saskatchewan Deaf and Heard of Hearing Services (SDHHS).

Gillis states that Rachinski’s close call never should have even happened because the landlord should have set up proper smoke detectors for deaf renters.

Gilles says the government demands landlords install regular smoke detectors for hearing people. The law should be changed to also require landlords to install smoke detectors for renters who are deaf. 


A normal smoke detectors costs anywhere between $10 to $30. Smoke detectors that have strobe lights or shakes the bed as a warning are more expensive.

We look at this way. If the landlord had installed a special smoke detector Rachinski would have likely been aware of the fire and been able to get help and not only save himself from a dangerous situation, but have saved the rental property from destruction.

Investing in your tenants’ safety and protecting your rental property is the smart thing to do.

To discuss this and other landlord and tenant issues go to the Canada Landlords Forum.

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