B.C. partners with StatCan to prevent fire-related deaths

Victoria, BC (June 8, 2022) – British Columbia has announced it is partnering with Statistics Canada to create a Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard to help B.C. fire services prevent fires, reduce injuries and save lives. This is crucial given the increasing trend in fire-related deaths.

The “dashboard” will provide statistical and geographical information to help B.C.’s fire services identify areas in communities at greatest risk of home fires. This information will be used to provide safety information targeted to areas that need it most. This will help protect residents, firefighters, and reduce the social and financial impacts to communities resulting from those fires.

“Since 2020, we have seen a concerning trend of rising fire deaths across B.C. and the rest of Canada. We need to do more to keep people and first responders safe by preventing these fires from happening,” said Brian Godlonton, B.C.’s fire commissioner. “The new dashboard identifies the areas most at risk of fires, so we know where to focus our fire prevention and safety programs. These advancements will not only prevent fires but, more importantly, prevent injuries and save lives.”

Over the last two reporting years, there has been a 119% increase in fire-related deaths around B.C., according to the Office of the Fire Commissioner’s annual report. In 2021, there were 59 fire-related deaths and 180 fire injuries. People over the age of 65 were over-represented in fire deaths. Only 42% of reported residential structure fires had a working smoke alarm.

“I’m deeply concerned about the growing number of fire-related deaths in our province. We are working on tackling this problem, and the new Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard will be extremely important to helping us prevent fires and save lives,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “I’m urging everyone to test their smoke alarms at least every six months to keep you and your family safe. Prevention is a key part of this, because fewer fires means healthier first responders and a safer province.”

The Office of the Fire Commissioner will be launching pilots of the dashboard with the cities of Coquitlam, Surrey, and Port Alberni in July. The office intends to rollout the dashboard provincially in early 2023.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the British Columbia Office of the Fire Commissioner, leveraging data to save lives,” said Anil Arora, chief statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada. “Through the expansion of these types of tools, the integration of other types of data and working with other communities, we can use the power of data to bring even greater value to all Canadians.”

“Prevention of fires and minimizing the impact of fires on lives and property is a key responsibility of local governments,” said Tim Pley, chief administrative officer, City of Port Alberni. “A Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard will enable local governments to focus their finite fire prevention resources where efforts can have the maximum positive effect. I look forward to implementation of the dashboard in our community.”

“The Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C. is looking forward to working with Office of the Fire Commissioner to learn more about how the Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard can improve fire and life safety in our communities,” said Dan Derby, president, Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C. “Geospatial mapping will be one more tool to assist our members to help identify high risk areas that would benefit from targeted fire and life safety fire prevention programs.”

“Data-driven decision-making continues to be a focus for future planning in Coquitlam Fire/Rescue,” said Jim Ogloff, fire chief, City of Coquitlam. “Tools like the newly created Fire Geospatial Model will allow us to further refine targeted outreach programs and fire risk reduction in our community.”

“Every fire department, big or small, can be proactive with Community Risk Reduction (CRR) initiatives to reduce the harms associated with structure fires,” said Larry Thomas, fire chief, City of Surrey. “We know though research some of the population demographics within our communities are over-represented in the fire death and injury statistics. The Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard will allow fire departments to be targeted with their CRR efforts. The dashboard can allow you to focus your education and smoke alarm programs in the areas of your community, which have higher percentages of citizens who are at higher risk to the harms associated with structure fire. I encourage anyone who is responsible for delivering fire and life safety information to use this dashboard to prioritize your targeted risk reduction efforts.”

Learn more: read the Office of the Fire Commissioner’s 2021 Annual Report.

About Statistics Canada

Statistics Canada produces statistics that help Canadians better understand their country – its population, resources, economy, society and culture. In Canada, providing statistics is a federal responsibility. As Canada’s central statistical agency, Statistics Canada is legislated to serve this function for the whole of Canada and each of the provinces. For more information, visit www.statcan.gc.ca.

Source: Statistics Canada

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