British Columbia

Working smoke alarms focus of B.C. Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention week is one of the longest running safety campaign in North America, and according to advocates, it's still needed.

Working devices needed in every room say fire chiefs

B.C. government officials and fire prevention advocates helped kick off Fire Prevention Week which runs Oct. 4-10 and stresses the importance of functioning smoke alarms. (Naomi Yamamoto)

Fire Prevention Week is one of the longest running safety campaign in North America, and according to advocates, it's still needed.

Research from the Fire Chiefs' Association of British Columbia suggests that fatality rates rise 74 per cent when a working smoke alarm is not present.

Across Canada fire kills eight people each week, with residential fires accounting for nearly three-quarters of those fatalities.

"[It] reminds us all of the critical need to have working smoke alarms in all homes," said Tim Pley, with the association in a release. "And that those alarms be located where they can be heard by occupants who are sleeping."

The theme of the 2015 campaign is called "Hear the Beep Where You Sleep," and runs from Oct. 4-10.

Statistics released by the Office of the Fire Commissioner in B.C. show that 35 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in fires where smoke alarms had:

  • dead batteries.
  • were disabled or disconnected.
  • were ineffective due to their location.
  • or were entirely nonexistent.

The B.C government is launching a social media awareness campaign on Twitter, which will provide fire safety tips to residents.

The awareness week falls on the anniversary of the 1871 Chicago fire, which killed 300 people and left 100,000 homeless.

"Fire Prevention Week provides all British Columbians with a reminder to review evacuation plans and practice fire drills, test the batteries in fire alarms, and ensure fire extinguishers are serviced," said B.C. Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness, Naomi Yamamoto in a release.

Fire prevention advocates advise residents to test alarms monthly, change the battery yearly and replace alarms every 10 years.

In B.C. the primary source of residential fires is stove-top burners.

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