A smoke alarm is an often forgotten safety item in the home, but it is a simple, low cost feature that just might save your property or even your life.
“The Town of Creston supports the 2012 provincial campaign to raise awareness and ensure every home in the province has a working smoke alarm,” said Mayor Ron Toyota.
B.C. Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond and Surrey fire Chief Len Garis, president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC, have launched a smoke alarm campaign, part of a broad initiative to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries.
Research done by Surrey Fire Services, in partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley, shows that almost 70 per cent of houses that caught fire did not have a functioning smoke alarm. The research predicts that working smoke alarms could reduce annual fire deaths by as much as 32 per cent. The research findings also indicate the province’s most vulnerable populations — such as children and the elderly — face the highest risk of dying in a residential fire.
“Although the province introduced into the Fire Code, the requirement for all homes to have at least one smoke alarm, studies show that the we (provincially) have vulnerable populations who still do not have these simple life saving devices,” Creston Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Michael Moore said last week. “The studies show that low-income families, single mothers and many elderly people on fixed incomes often live in accommodations, whether rentals or owned, which do not have a smoke alarm installed.”
Moore said the simple presence of a white plastic orb on one’s ceiling is not necessarily an indication of safety.
“The other issue is the age of the smoke alarms, as smoke alarms do not last forever and should be replaced at a maximum, every 10 years or manufacturer’s recommendation, which may be less than 10 years,” he said. “As smoke alarms age, their effectiveness and reliability diminish considerably, even to the point of failure to operate in the event of a fire.”
The new campaign is a sustained co-ordinated approach to ensure B.C. homes have a functioning smoke alarm. The Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC and the office of the fire commissioner will lead a steering committee of stakeholders on the local, provincial and national level, with a focus on the three Es of injury prevention — education, environment and enforcement.
Some components of the campaign are:
•a national injury reduction forum to be held Oct. 12, hosted by Surrey Fire Service with the Canadian Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons;
•a call to action on behalf of local fire departments to address this issue in their communities;
•developing interagency partnerships to maximize the protection offered by smoke alarms to the most disadvantaged members of society;
•targeting engagement with B.C. First Nations;
•working with multi-residential building managers to maximize protection within these residences;
•exploring the potential to develop a school-based curriculum for fire prevention;
•exploring the potential to utilize the insurance act to compel annual testing of smoke alarms upon policy renewal;
•working with federal politicians to create a national smoke alarm day; and
•encouraging federal politicians to focus on design changes to smoke alarms to address design deficiencies that enable them to be disconnected and also mean they can become non-functioning without alerting residents.
“Creston Fire Rescue supports the provincial campaign and will work on some local initiatives in the near future to build on this awareness campaign,” Moore said.
The campaign is gathering a growing number of supporters, including the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and others.
“Our government is committed to improving the safety of British Columbians, and the research shows us that smoke alarms play a critical role in saving lives and protecting property,” said Bond. “At the end of the day, we want every home to have a working smoke alarm. It’s a goal we should have for all Canadian homes, and we plan to lead by example in our province.”
Further details about the campaign will be publicized as it rolls out during 2012. Information about the campaign is available at www.fcabc.ca.