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B.C. advances fire-risk reduction, public education to save lives

June 8, 2023 at 10:56 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

The Province is providing $1.6 million for a new campaign to help educate people about proper smoke-alarm use and reducing fire risks, which will save lives and protect first responders.

Government is partnering with the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU) to promote community fire-risk reduction, including a comprehensive smoke-alarm social marketing campaign to reduce the number of fire-related injuries and deaths in British Columbia.

“We are taking action to overturn the alarming trend of increasing fire-related deaths in our province,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Once a fire starts, people have very little time to get out of their home safely, making a working smoke alarm a critical tool for saving lives. I’m urging everyone to test their smoke alarms at least once every six months to keep their home and family safe.”

The Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) has released its annual report for 2022. According to the report, in 2022 there were 9,087 fires resulting in 212 injuries and 86 deaths. Further, a working smoke alarm was present at only 45% of the reported residential structure fires. The statistics and trends identified in the report help local government fire services effectively allocate personnel and resources to reduce community fire risk, and the number of fires and fire-related injuries and deaths.

The Province has partnered with Statistics Canada to build a Community Fire-Risk Reduction Dashboard. Alongside the education campaign, these two integrated projects will help B.C. fire services prevent fires, reduce injuries and save lives, which is crucial given the increasing trend in fire-related deaths.

“The Office of the Fire Commissioner annual report provides important trends, which highlight the work that needs to be done to stop these fires from happening in the first place,” said Brian Godlonton, B.C.’s fire commissioner. “The dashboard combined with the smoke-alarm and social-marketing campaign will not only help prevent fires but, more importantly, prevent injuries and save lives.” 

The dashboard provides statistical and geographical information to help B.C.’s fire services identify areas in communities at greatest risk of home fires. This will help protect residents, firefighters, and reduce the social and financial impacts to communities affected by fires. The dashboard data is being used by the BCIRPU to develop the smoke-alarm education campaign, which will be broadcast around the province in the fall.

The OFC launched pilots of the dashboard in 11 cities, including Coquitlam, Surrey, Kamloops, Sidney and Port Alberni in July 2022. The dashboard will be rolled out throughout the province in the coming weeks.  

Quotes:

Brett Mikkelsen, fire chief, Town of Sidney –

“Our first priority is the life safety of the residents of the Town of Sidney. We pride ourselves on our community risk-reduction efforts and by using the Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard and with the involvement of the BC Injury and Prevention Unit, our firefighters can focus fire prevention efforts in the neighbourhoods that will benefit the most from having working smoke alarms.”

Larry Thomas, fire chief, City of Surrey –

“Every fire department big or small can be proactive with community risk-reduction initiatives to reduce the fire injuries and deaths associated with residential structure fires. The dashboard will help with targeted risk reduction for populations within our communities, which are over-represented in fire death and injury statistics.”  

Ian Pike, executive director, BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit –

“Calling on the expertise and partnership of BCIRPU and the Community Against Preventable Injuries, together with the insights provided by the dashboard, we aim to reach across the province, especially high-risk regions, with a co-ordinated and strategic public campaign to prevent fire-related injuries and deaths.”

Anil Arora, chief statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada –

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with the British Columbia Office of the Fire Commissioner, leveraging data to save lives. The fire risk reduction dashboard demonstrates the need for national fire-incident information that can be integrated with other types of data for community-specific fire-prevention solutions.”

Learn More:

The Office of the Fire Commissioner’s 2022 annual report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/fire-safety/fire-reporting#statistics

To see a Statistics Canada report on the increase of fire incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/230608/dq230608a-eng.htm

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