Fire Fighting in Canada

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Preventable risk factors reported in half of unintended fire deaths: StatsCan

October 17, 2022  By FFIC Staff


Oct. 17, 2022, Ottawa — At least one risk factor, like smoking, alcohol or drug consumption, or a non-functioning smoke alarm, was reported in half of unintended residential fire-related deaths, shows new data from Statistics Canada.

Between 2011 and 2020, 81 per cent of the average 220 fire-related annual deaths were involuntary. Residential fires made up 92 per cent of deaths in the 10-year period, with twice as many happening in the winter.

The use of alcohol, cannabis or drugs was reported in almost one-third of involuntary fire deaths at home. Smoking remains a hazard, with at least one-fifth of deaths caused by cigarettes, tobacco products, pipes or other smoking material. Cooking, an electrical incident, candles or other open flames were also contributing causes. No working smoke alarms were reported at least one-in-seven fire deaths and 71 per cent of deaths occurred with no information on smoke alarms.

Sixty per cent of the victims were male. Over one-third of the deceased were 65-years or older. Fourteen per cent of victims had a disability. Aging factors like physical and cognitive disabilities have a major impact on how a person can respond to a fire. Living alone is also a major risk factor.

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Smoke inhalation caused 68 per cent of the inadvertent fire deaths.

The findings come from the Canadian Coroner and Medical Examiner Database, which was developed at Statistics Canada in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and the provinces and territories.

 


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