A motorist watches from a pullout on the Trans-Canada Highway as a wildfire burns on the side of a mountain in Lytton, B.C., July 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A motorist watches from a pullout on the Trans-Canada Highway as a wildfire burns on the side of a mountain in Lytton, B.C., July 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. piloting fire dashboard to help identify communities most at-risk of blazes

Online dashboard will launch in Coquitlam, Surrey, and Port Alberni in July

B.C. is beginning to launch an online fire-risk dashboard this summer in an effort to combat an increasing number of fire-related deaths.

Constructed in partnership with Statistics Canada, the Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard will allow local governments and fire departments to target resources and education campaigns to regions or neighbourhoods known to be at a greater risk.

One main focus of it will be to lower the number of home fires, which B.C.’s fire commissioner Brian Godlonton said make up a large per cent of overall provincial blazes.

In 2021, there were 9,166 fires resulting in 180 injuries and 59 deaths, according to the Office of the Fire Commissioner’s annual report released Wednesday (June 8). Of them, 2,751 were residential structure fires, accounting for 118 of the injuries and 36 of the deaths.

Godlonton said in 58% of those home fires, there was no working fire alarm. Most often, the fires were started by cooking equipment (39 injuries and three deaths), and smoking materials or open flames (44 injuries and eight deaths).

Another concern is the overrepresentation of older people in fire-related deaths. In the last five years, people over age 65 were 30 per cent more likely than other age categories to die in a fire, Godlonton said.

Age is one of many factors the new dashboard will take into account when determining at-risk areas, Godlonton said. It will pull data from the Office of the Fire Commissioner and Statistics Canada to make its determinations.

The dashboard will first be rolled out in Coquitlam, Surrey, and Port Alberni in July, before gradually making its way into the rest of the province by early 2023.

More to come.


@janeskrypnek
jane.skrypnek@bpdigital.ca

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