Amid a concerning increase in the number of fatal fires in the province, a Vancouver Island fire chief is taking time to remind residents of the importance of fire safety.
Statistics released this month by the Office of the Fire Commissioner in its annual report showed 59 people died in a fire throughout the province in 2021, an increase of seven deaths over 2020 and 32 over 2019.
”What we want to do is push the importance of smoke alarms in homes, because it is a proven fact that having a working smoke alarm increases the chances of survival by over 50 per cent,” said Langford Fire Rescue acting assistant chief Simon Chadwick.
Of the 59 fire deaths last year, 36 occurred in home fires, which accounted for 2,751 of the 9,166 recorded fires. The most concerning statistic for Chadwick, however, is that in 58 per cent of those home fires, there was no functioning smoke alarm on the property.
That’s why his department is making a push to ensure as many residents as possible have working smoke detectors at home.
Chadwick said smoke detectors should be on every floor of a home, and ideally there should be one in every bedroom as well. Just as important as having smoke detectors installed, however, is testing them regularly and replacing batteries twice a year – when you set your clocks forward or backward each spring and fall is a good time to do the batteries too.
Smoke detectors are also important to have in cabins or campers, Chadwick said, and it is important to replace them promptly when they reach the end of their lives – usually every 10 years.
And if anyone has any questions about whether their smoke detectors are working or installed properly, your local fire department may be able to help.
“In Langford, we have a smoke alarm program. If you are concerned your smoke alarm is not working properly, let us know. We will come out, test your smoke alarm, provide you with free batteries if required, and for those who don’t have a working smoke alarm, we can provide them with a temporary free smoke alarm.”