Technology
Hope everyone had a great, safe and healthy summer. The long, cold winter is now just around the corner. With that in mind, I’d like to take the opportunity to write about preparing for the cold weather.
Published in Equipment
There is much to consider when it comes to taking calls and dispatching in the fire service.
Published in Communication
How does a yoga pose and a #NationalDayCalendar help you educate your community on the importance of testing and maintaining smoke alarms? Pretty easily if you know which yoga pose faces towards the ceiling and involves raising your hands above your head.
Published in Social media
Having a sprinkler system in your home can reduce your chance of dying in a fire by 79 per cent, according to a new study based on 10 years of Canadian fire data.

Released in April by the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C., the study appears to bolster the call for mandatory sprinklers in all new homes in the leadup to the 2020 version of the National Building Code.

Sprinkler Systems and Residential Structure Fires – Revisited: Exploring the Impact of Sprinklers for Life Safety and Fire Spread was written by Len Garis, Arpreet Singh, Joseph Clare, Sarah Hughan and Alex Tyakoff, who analyzed more than 439,000 fire incidents reported in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick between 2005 and 2015.

“We wanted to take a fresh look at the data in light of modern-day fire response, demographics and building fire risk,” said co-author Clare, a senior criminology lecturer at the University of Western Australia and an international member of the Institute of Canadian Urban Research Studies at Simon Fraser University. “The results underscore the life-saving potential of automated sprinklers in all residential settings, particularly when paired with working smoke alarms.”

The study focused on casualty behaviour, fire spread and fire department resources in residential fires, which numbered 140,162 in the 10-year timeframe. Based on the findings, the death rate per 1,000 in non-sprinklered homes is more than triple that of sprinklered homes, and people are more than twice as likely to be seriously injured in a fire in a non-sprinklered home as in a sprinklered one.

The data also revealed that fires in single-family homes caused more deaths than those in apartments, that senior citizens were more likely to die in a residential fire than younger people, and that fires in sprinklered homes required significantly less fire department intervention.

The findings support the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs’ (CAFC) multi-year campaign pushing for mandatory sprinkler systems in all new homes – including single-family dwellings – in the National Building Code.

“We can conclude that increasing the use of residential sprinkler systems would have a rising impact in the years to come, both because Canada’s population is aging and because modern-day furnishings, building materials and open-plan designs carry a higher fire load, as research has shown,” Clare noted.

The study builds on an extensive body of existing research on residential sprinkler systems, including a 2013 study by Garis and Clare and a pivotal 1984 study A Benefit-Cost Model of Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems by S. Ruegg and S. Fuller that demonstrated a 63-to-69-per-cent reduction in the death rate per 1,000 fires, and prompted the U.S. Fire Administration official position that all homes should be equipped with both smoke alarms and automatic fire sprinklers, and all families should have and practice an emergency escape plan.

Data for the new study was provided by the CAFC and the Council of Canadian Fire Marshals and Fire Commissioners through Statistics Canada. Fire incident information available in the National Fire Information Database was also used to examine casualty behaviour, fire spread and fire department response.

Overall, 97 per cent of the fires studied occurred in residential buildings without sprinklers. These fires resulted in 97 per cent of the injuries and 99.2 per cent of the deaths. Less than one per cent (0.6 per cent) of fires in single-family homes occurred in the presence of sprinkler protection. Of note:
  • The death rate per 1,000 for fires in sprinklered homes was 0.9, compared to 3.3 in non-sprinklered ones.
  • Only 10 per cent of injuries in fires in sprinklered homes were serious, compared to 23 per cent in non-sprinklered ones.
  • Risk of death was not equal among ages and genders. People age 65 and up made up 30 per cent of the fire deaths in single-family dwellings and more than 33 per cent in apartment buildings. Males represented about two-thirds of all those injured or killed in a residential fire.
Sprinklers were also shown to be successful in controlling fire spread. When sprinklers activated, fires were confined to the room of origin 88.4 per cent of the time, which was 1.35 times more frequently than for non-sprinklered buildings. When the type of housing was considered, the disparity was greatest for single-family homes, where fires with sprinkler activations were confined to the room of origin 1.5 times more frequently. In apartments, fires with sprinkler activations were confined to the room of origin 1.1 times more frequently.

In total, only 1.6 per cent of fires in sprinklered properties spread beyond the building, compared to 5.7 per cent in non-sprinklered properties.

Firefighters were also safer when working in sprinklered buildings. They were injured 1.6 times more frequently in non-sprinklered buildings. No serious firefighter injuries were reported in sprinklered building fires, as opposed to 15 per cent for non-sprinklered building fires.

It should be noted that due to variations of fire spread and size or other fire-control mechanisms, sprinkler systems did not always activate when fires occurred. Sprinklers were only required to control 18 per cent of the fires in apartments or 28 per cent of the fires in houses.

Overall, the study makes a strong case for the increased use of sprinkler systems in all types of residential buildings to reduce fire-related injuries, deaths and resource use.

The protection is even greater when combined with early detection. Based on the new findings in combination with earlier research, it can be concluded that fire-related death rates per 1,000 fires are reduced by 43.7 per cent with working smoke alarms and 79 per cent with sprinkler systems.

What can Canada’s fire community take away from this?

“This is further evidence that mandatory sprinkler systems in all new homes would be a large, positive step towards furthering residential fire safety in Canada,” Clare said. “At the same time, we need to acknowledge that most of the population will continue to live in existing non-sprinklered homes. The approach going forward must include working smoke alarms, along with targeted strategies to protect older Canadians and others at higher risk.”

The study can be downloaded for free from the University of the Fraser Valley’s public safety and criminal justice research database at cjr.ufv.ca/sprinkler-systems-and-residential-structure-fires-revisited-exploring-the-impact-of-sprinklers-for-life-safety-and-fire-spread/.


Len Garis is the fire chief for the City of Surrey, B.C. He is also an adjunct professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and associate to the Centre for Social Research at the University of the Fraser Valley in B.C. Contact Len at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Karin Mark is a former newspaper reporter who writes for publications and provides communications and design services in Metro Vancouver, B.C.
Published in Prevention
Firefighters on the front lines battling wildfires are often away from their families for long periods of time. But now, they’ll be able to connect and read bedtime stories to their children via a new free app.

Veteran U.S. firefighter Brendan McDonough has teamed up with digital storytelling app, Caribu, to create the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative.

The app connects firefighters and their families via an expansive digital library with hundreds of children’s books in six languages.

Caribu is an interactive video-call app that provides a way to read books together on a shared screen to keep the tradition of bedtime stories alive no matter the distance

Caribu is donating free month-long subscriptions of its digital education platform to firefighters, their families and those affected or displaced by ongoing wildfires.

The subscriptions are available to firefighters across the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

McDonough used to bring a book to read to his daughter over the phone while he was traveling fighting fires.

In a recent television interview, McDonough, sole survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy of 2013 and inspiration behind the 2017 film “Only The Brave,” relayed how reading bedtime stories to his young daughter on the road gave his morale a boost.

“While fighting wildfires, we would be gone from home constantly,” said McDonough. “Being able to read to my daughter at night kept me motivated. I support the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative because I want to help bring that small, but really important experience, to firefighters and their families.”

Upon hearing McDonough’s story, Caribu CEO Maxeme Tuchman was moved to act. She quickly realized that her innovative technology could solve a real and urgent need for firefighters on the frontlines and immediately wanted to do something to help.

“We’re so proud to be able to show our support for the firefighters that are dedicated to our safety and keeping the wildfires at bay,” said Tuchman. “We offer free access to all active members of the military; it just made sense to do the same for wildland firefighters who are also away from home for long stretches of time. If Caribu can make just one part of keeping our heroes close to their families easier, we’ve done our job.”

Caribu makes virtual story time easily accessible to parents. With only a smartphone and data plan or Wi-Fi, firefighters are instantly connected with their family back home through a shared screen interactive video-call.

Anyone fighting in, or directly affected by wildfires, is eligible to participate in the Caribu Firefighter Family Initiative. Simply download Caribu from the Apple App Store and use promo code: BRAVE.

Click here to register for the app.

Click here for more information.








Published in Social media
This past June 14 marked the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, England, that blaze was one of the most tragic fires in the history of the modern United Kingdom. Seventy-two people died and more than 70 were injured.
Published in Codes and standards
For close to twenty years,  NFPA 1620 has been the de facto standard for pre-incident planning in North America. NFPA 1620 specifies the minimum information that needs to be part of a pre-incident fire plan, which includes a building’s occupancy and use, architecture and design, safety features and equipment, surrounding buildings, entrances and exits, and contact information of managing staff.
Published in Hot topics
How many lives could be saved if emergency responders knew when a cluster of opioid overdoses would occur in advance?
Published in Response
In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Fire Fighting in Canada, we asked our Facebook friends what they think has been the most significant development in fire fighting.
Published in Hot topics
Purchasing the latest technology is not always the right choice for a fire department. Brad Harvey, a member of Scott Safety's business intelligence team, suggests three keys to success when it comes to understanding technology applications in fire services: stay grounded, engage in innovation and leverage data.

Harvey discussed what's involved in those measures during Fire Fighting in Canada's webinar Exploring innovation, held on March 24.

Toronto Deputy Chief Darrell Reid, the webinar's second speaker, shared details about his department's recent technology advancements, including the Toronto Radio Infrastructure Project – a radio system designed for the city's fire, police and EMS services – and performance and analytics technologies such as DarkHorse Analytics and LiveMUM move-up module.

"We are a department that maybe hasn't always embraced technology as quickly as we might have," Reid said, "but in the past few years there has been a real step forward in terms of getting the right people into important positions who have that knowledge in terms of analytics, business intelligence, how to make business cases that are really developed and derived from evidence."

Missed the webinar? Register and watch it for free now!




Published in Equipment
February 2016 - As a training officer, I believe that e-learning dramatically improves fire-service training, which, in turn, allows us to serve our communities more effectively.
Published in Equipment
My first experience in a brotherhood was when I played high school football. To this day, and much to my bride’s embarrassment, I’ll occasionally bust out the old leather bomber jacket that has my number and position on the sleeve.
Published in Equipment
PRESENTER: Eric Edwards, past chair, Unmanned Systems Canada, president, Montreal’s Xiphos Technologies.
DATE: Sept. 24, 2015
TIME: 2 p.m. EST
COST: $25 registration


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) and unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, are making their presence known in commercial operations following years of military success – and it represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of their potential.

But many questions still need to be explored:
  • What are the regulatory standards commercial operators need to know now and in the future?
  • What are the technological realities in the market today and what limitations exist for operators?
  • Where is the industry headed and how can one capitalize on potential opportunities?
  • How are UAVs being utilized today and how can various industries such as aerial fire fighting, heavy construction, forestry, real estate and agriculture capitalize on the trend?
  • What are the economic opportunities?

Join Fire Fighting in Canada's partner magazines Wings and Helicopters on Sept. 24 for a webinar with presenter Eric Edwards who can help shed light on these questions and more.

Edwards initiated and co-led the Transport Canada working group that established the standard Ground School Syllabus for operators of small, unmanned aircraft. As past chair of the Unmanned Systems Canada, he is acutely aware of the current regulatory UAV framework in Canada and is well versed on the potential operational applications for UAV technology. At Xiphos Technologies in Montreal, he works in image processing and hyperspectral data processing for UAV and spacecraft payloads. Join Edwards as explores the impact UAVs will have on the Canadian commercial framework and the value they will bring to a wide variety of industries.

REGISTER NOW





Published in Equipment
A fire in East Gwillimbury, Ont., in March that tragically trapped and killed four members of a single family led to discussions in the media about different types of smoke alarms.
Published in Equipment
Incident scenes can be chaotic, particularly multi-vehicle collisions at which flashing lights, injured patients, twisted metal and curious onlookers can add to the mayhem.
Published in Equipment
As new technologies continuously arise, some things in the fire service have remained essentially the same. The saw is one of those things.
Published in Equipment
Maintaining situational awareness on the fire ground is critical to firefighter safety.
Published in Equipment
The PyroLance is unlike anything most firefighters have ever seen, though the tool has been on the market for almost three years now.
Published in Equipment
Breathing air becomes a precious commodity on the fire ground. For firefighters who find themselves inside a structure with too little, the consequences can be dire.
Published in Equipment
You’ve heard the saying the fire service is 200 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress?
Published in Equipment
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