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

Over-budget bids cause delay of four Surrey school projects

Two projects have gone back out to tender, two awaiting ‘revised budget approval’ from Ministry of Education

Fees ensure patients have access to parking at SMH, FHA says

Fraser Health Authority hasn’t heard yet from city hall about pay parking at Surrey hospital

Free hospital parking a non-starter in White Rock

City considering task force to look at parking generally – Walker

Surrey memories: How the ‘IGUISBCSIR’ Facebook page became a hub for anecdotal history

Former Whalley resident Wes Mussato launched the group in 2011, 11 years after he’d moved to Ontario

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read