In the nearly 11,000 residential fires that occurred in British Columbia between 2006 and 2011, about 70 percent of the fire scenes examined had either no smoke alarm or a non-functional smoke alarm, says data from the Office of the Fire Commissioner. A University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) study found that up to 69 deaths across Canada could be prevented – a reduction of about 32 percent – each year if all Canadian homes had working smoke alarms.
Shirley Bond, B.C.’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General, along with Len Garis, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC and Surrey Fire Chief, are hoping to make that happen. Together, they have launched a smoke alarm campaign, intended to ensure that every home in the province has a functional smoke alarm so that future tragedies can be avoided.
The new campaign is a sustained, co-ordinated approach to ensure B.C. homes have a functioning smoke alarm. The Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC and the Office of the Fire Commissioner will lead a steering committee of stakeholders on the local, provincial and national level, with a focus on the Three E’s of Injury Prevention – education, environment and enforcement. The campaign is calling on all levels of government, communities and the insurance industry.
Some components of the campaign are:
- A national injury reduction forum to be held Oct. 12, 2012, hosted by Surrey Fire Service with the Canadian Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.
- A call to action on behalf of local fire departments to address this issue in their communities.
- Developing interagency partnerships to maximize the protection offered by smoke alarms to the most disadvantaged members of society.
- Targeting engagement with B.C. First Nations.
- Working with multi-residential building managers to maximize protection within these residences.
- Exploring the potential to develop a school-based curriculum for fire prevention.
- Exploring the potential to utilize the Insurance Act to compel annual testing of smoke alarms upon policy renewal.
- Working with federal politicians to create a national smoke alarm day.
- Encourage federal politicians to focus on design changes to smoke alarms to address design deficiencies that enable them to be disconnected and also mean they can become non-functioning without alerting residents.
Should homeowners have to prove that they have working smoke alarms installed before their insurance policy can be renewed?
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