A new education program created by Surrey’s fire department has cut the number of fires in the city dramatically, preventing more than $1 million in damages.
Two years ago, Surrey’s fire department started the Homesafe program, which saw a city-wide blitz on informing people in high-risk areas on how to prevent home fires from occurring.
Since then, the program has resulted in a reduction in the rate of fires in those areas by almost two-thirds and has prevented an estimated $1.26 million in property losses.
In addition, when fires did occur in homes that had been visited under the program, the probability of smoke alarms having been activated by the fire was increased and the related fires were smaller and caused less damage.
In the last two years, the program reached 18,473 addresses, representing about 14 per cent of all single-family homes in Surrey.
As part of the program, firefighters go to homes in person to discuss issues such as smoke alarms, home fire escape plans, children and fire, senior fire safety, and how to prevent kitchen fires.
The result has been a 64-per-cent decrease in fire amongst the areas visited, and in the 13 homes where fires occurred, smoke alarms were activated in 46.2 per cent of the cases, compared to 17.2 per cent prior to the program.
More than one-third of the fires were confined to the room of origin, compared to 11 per cent before.
And property damage to the homes was cut in half.
Statistically, the drop in fires represents a life saved every year.
Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis is expanding the initiative across the province in his role as president of the B.C. Fire Chiefs’ Association.
Garis said he’s also getting calls from other provinces looking at starting similar programs there.
To book a Homesafe visit, call the Surrey Fire Department at 604-543-6700.