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West Kelowna to help install, test alarms for free

July 3, 2012 - West Kelowna Fire Rescue has joined the campaign to ensure that every home in British Columbia has a working smoke alarm. The department says its firefighters are available to install and test home smoke alarms free of charge. Free alarms will also be provided to residents in need.

July 3, 2012
By Olivia D'Orazio

July 3, 2012 – West Kelowna Fire Rescue has joined the campaign to ensure that every home in British Columbia has a working smoke alarm. The department says its firefighters are available to install and test home smoke alarms free of charge. Free alarms will also be provided to residents in need.

The campaign, which started with the Surrey Fire Service in March, has been widely supported, and has the backing of Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond, Stephanie Cadieux, the minister of social development, Len Garis, Surrey fire chief and president of the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. (FCABC), and others.

The program received major donations from Kidde Canada and Black Press, totaling $435,000.

“One of the simplest and most effective ways we can keep B.C. families safe in their homes is by ensuring they have a working smoke alarm that they test regularly,” B.C. Premier Christy Clark said in a press release.

“We know that the safety of seniors in particular is improved when they have working smoke alarms in their homes. With so many people choosing to retire in the beautiful Okanagan, West Kelowna’s leadership in joining us to actively support the smoke alarm campaign is vital.”

Research 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.

“Since we kicked off the smoke alarm campaign in March with a call for action, we have picked up generous support from many partners, and it’s encouraging to see the momentum continue to build,” Bond.

“As awareness grows and communities join in to ensure that vulnerable citizens are protected, I believe we can reduce fire-related deaths and injuries and save many families unnecessary grief.”

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.