Fire Prevention Week is from Oct. 6-12 and this year’s theme is “Prevent kitchen fires.” The data across North America indicates that most fires start in the kitchen than in any other part of the home. Few people may realize this, but on average eight Canadians will die every week as a result of a fire. A quick calculation indicates that in Canada we can expect (based on previous data) that 416 people will die from fire every year. Not acceptable in my books!
In this column, I want to identify and determine what type of scorecard the Prince Albert Fire Department should receive based upon our emergency incidents from Jan. 1-Sept. 30, 2012-2013. This is not a grading scorecard based on scientific analysis, so to keep things simple and to ensure objectivity; the grading system will look like this:
• Grade A-Emergency incidents down
• Grade B-Emergency incidents remain the same
• Grade C-Emergency incidents increased somewhat
• Grade D-Emergency incidents increased significantly
So far in 2013 we have had 15 fires that originated in the kitchen, but overall the residential fires (private dwellings, apartments, hotels, motels, and other residential) are down seven per cent, with five fewer apartment fires so far this year. This may not be a big number, but it is very positive for the fire department as it indicates we are making progress in our fire prevention activities. Remember, most of the fire prevention information is delivered to children, who will take the information home to their parents. I think we deserve an A.
Structure fires (schools, colleges, healthcare facilities, stores, offices, industry) are down by 22 per cent which can be contributed to the fire inspections conducted by our two Fire Inspection Officers. We also utilize dayshift personnel to conduct follow up inspections, so there is little doubt in my mind that the 22 per cent decrease deserves an A.
Vehicle fires are down by 68 per cent, but because we do not have any specific prevention activities related to this, it would be unfair to give the fire department a grade.
Our brush and grass fires are down by 17 per cent and dumpsters fires are down by 140per cent, which, once again can be contributed to our prevention activities. I do not have any data to back up my next statement, but I do believe more people are calling the police or bylaw when they see suspicious activities, which may have a part to play in the significant decrease in dumpster fires. The neighbor watching over a neighbor, along with fire prevention activities deserves an A+.
The number of false alarms remains the same and I can only give the fire department a B grade.
Overall, I am very pleased with the fire prevention activities we have embarked upon in the last year and as a department we will continue to look at ways to decrease our fire incidents.
One final note and thought during Fire Prevention Week.
Section 22 of Bylaw No. 22 of 2008, The Fire and Emergency Services Bylaw states that all residential properties in the City of Prince Albert shall have a battery or hard wired smoke alarm outside all sleeping areas.
We are responsible for our own safety and testing our smoke alarms monthly, and changing the batteries at least once a year is a good practice to get into. Remember, if your detector is more than 10 years old; replace it with a new one.
Let’s work together to decrease the lives lost from fire every year. We are all in this together.
Les Karpluk is the chief of the Prince Albert Fire Department