WORKING SMOKE ALARMS SAVE LIVES

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Background

Read the Emergency Management BC Smoke Alarm Bulletin
Read the FCABC News Release

Research reveals a strong link between working smoke alarms and reduced fatalities from residential structure fires.

A study of almost 50,000 fires in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario from October 2006 to 2011 showed:

Given that these three provinces are home to 62% of all Canadians, it was extrapolated that 69 deaths (a decrease of 32%) could be prevented each year if all Canadian homes had working smoke alarms.

Smoke alarm legislation varies from province to province. Since mid-2010, the B.C. Fire Code has required all homes, hotel and motel rooms to have a working smoke alarm (battery-operated or hard-wired). However, this is not systematically enforced on residential properties.   

Smoke alarm function is another challenge. Models with removable batteries can be easily disabled during cooking, and also require the occupant to be diligent about replacing batteries at regular intervals. While this problem is addressed by hard-wired and long-life lithium battery models, their seemingly “care-free” status may result in neglected maintenance and use beyond the functioning lifespan.

A coordinated, sustained and multi-faceted approach – consisting of education, enforcement and changes to the environment – is required to ensure every Canadian home has a working smoke alarm.

B.C.’s Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC, with assistance from the Surrey Fire Service and other champions, are spearheading a local, provincial and national movement in 2012 to achieve this goal. This will include a national injury reduction forum on October 12, 2012, hosted by Surrey Fire Service in partnership with the Canadian Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.


Smoke Alarms Work, But Not Forever (January 2012) was written by Fire Chief Len Garis and Dr. Joseph Clare of the City of Surrey Fire Service for the University of the Fraser Valley School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.