Fire Fighting in Canada

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B.C.’s smoke alarm campaign gets financial boost

May 29, 2012 – The Surrey Fire Services’ campaign to ensure that every home in British Columbia has a working smoke alarm just got stronger with contributions totaling $425,000.

May 29, 2012
By Olivia D'Orazio

May 29, 2012 – The Surrey Fire Services’ campaign to ensure that every home in British Columbia has a working smoke alarm just got stronger with contributions totaling $425,000.

Black Press has added a multimedia component to the campaign, with a $350,000 investment. The company, which owns several newspapers throughout western Canada, says it wants to raise awareness among its readers about the importance of having working smoke alarms in their homes.

Meanwhile, Kidde Canada is donating 5,000 smoke alarms to the cause – a retail value of $75,000. The alarms will be distributed among vulnerable populations, including First Nations.

“It is our sincere hope this donation helps kick-start the campaign by getting protection into B.C. homes fast, whether the alarm is the first ever installed or is one that is replacing an old alarm that has passed its lifespan of 10 years,” said Carol Heller, vice-president of Kidde Canada.

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“We know that having working smoke alarms doubles a family’s chances of escaping a fire, so we wanted to do something on a grand scale to match B.C.’s leadership.”

The smoke alarm campaign was launched in Surrey on March 22 by Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond, Stephanie Cadieux, the minister of social development, and Len Garis, Surrey Fire Chief and president of the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C., and others.

The group has a series of activities planned to ensure a sustainable smoke-alarm movement. This summer, organizations and businesses throughout B.C. will discuss smoke-alarm issues and work toward further achieving the objectives of the program.

The FCABC and the Office of the Fire Commissioner will lead a steering committee of local, provincial and national stakeholders that will focus on education, environment and enforcement.

Lastly, the Surrey Fire Service and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada will hold a national injury reduction forum on Oct. 12, which will be proclaimed Smoke Alarm Awareness Day in British Columbia.

Research completed by Surrey Fire Services and the University of the Fraser Valley shows that, in the 11,000 house fires in B.C. between 2006 and 2011, almost 70 per cent of homes did not have a working fire alarm. The researchers also determined that functional smoke alarms can reduce annual fire deaths by as much as 32 per cent.

The study also found that the risk of fatalities from residential structure fires is greater in households with young children, older adults, or people with disabilities. Risk of death is also higher in rental units, homes in low-income areas, rural communities and on First Nations.

“We’ve embarked on the smoke alarm campaigns before,” Garis said. “There is no quick fix.

“Community safety will only improve with sustained collaborative, consistent effort. This movement has to continue forever.”