Dramatic drop in fire deaths: Report

Surrey's fire chief is a co-author of a study showing smoke alarm program is working well

The number of fire fatalities has dropped dramatically in the province since the launch of a campaign to bring smoke alarms to the most needy.

Fatalities from residential fires dropped by 65 per cent last year in B.C., according to a study just released by the University of the Fraser Valley, Centre for Social Research.

The study, co-authored by Len Garis, Joseph Clare and Sarah Hughan, was released in September and provincial statistics from 2012 to 2014.

In addition to the decline in fatalities, “present and functioning smoke alarms per 1,000 fires increased by 26 per cent,” the report states.

“Fires without any smoke alarms decreased by 17 per cent.”

It follows a program launched in 2012 called the B.C. Smoke Alarm Movement, whereby more than 41,000 smoke alarms were distributed to homes throughout the province.

About half of those were given to First Nations communities and many of them to seniors.

Prior to the initiative, 90 people died in residential fires. That dropped to 60 at the time of the study.

Garis, Surrey’s fire chief, said Thursday he was surprised by some of the results but also expected a lot of what he saw.

“First off, I wasn’t surprised because I saw the United Kingdom death rates decrease substantially over 10 years,” Garis said. “I was surprised to see it happen so quickly (in the local program).”

From here, Garis said the city will ramp up the delivery of educational material and the smoke alarms, using tax offices and food banks as mechanisms to get the devices to those at risk.

The report comes just a day after Surrey fire crews battled a huge blaze at an apartment complex at 108 Avenue and King George Boulevard.

About 200 people were evacuated, but no one was injured.

Garis said the smoke alarms and fire sprinklers all worked the way they were designed.

“The unfortunate thing is the fire started on the outside of the building and it spread quickly on the outside of the building to the roof,” Garis said. “The important thing is the safety systems were designed to get people out safely, and that’s what happened.”

He’s looking forward to building legislation requiring sprinklers on balconies, which would have greatly mitigated the damage at fires such as the one on King George.

Ten per cent of fires begin on balconies, Garis noted.

The report is being released in time for Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 4 to 10

 

Just Posted

McCallum says Surrey LRT communication plan close to election is ‘perceived interference’

McCallum ‘gravely concerned’ Surrey and TransLink will violate election financing rules, but city says all rules will be followed

Two Surrey volleyballers set to play for Team Canada

Brianna Beamish and Kiera Van Ryk in Japan for FIVB World Championships

Surrey school trustees want to see reliance on portables reduced by 50% in five years

Board votes unanimously to request a meeting with Minister of Education

UPDATE: Police seeking witnesses to fatal Surrey hit-and-run

A pedestrian was killed Thursday night in a crash on Highway 10 near 152nd Street

Surrey woman with autism has scooter stolen from SkyTrain station

Kayla Polege purchased scooter after ‘shutdowns’ on transit

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

UPDATE: Police ID man in suspicious Richmond death

A body was found in the area of Garden City and Odlin Roads in Richmond just after 8:30am Thursday

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

Most Read