Surrey’s fire chief says the number of people dying in house fires has dropped 46 per cent since the inception of its HomeSafe program, which provides free smoke alarms and home safety inspections to residents.
Prior to the program launching in 2007, Chief Len Garis reports an average of 40 people were dying in house fires per year (from 2000 to 2006).
From 2007 to 2018, that average decreased to 20.
House fires also dropped by 53 per cent between 2007 and 2018, from 210 to 160.
Garis noted the drop in fires is despite “regional and provincial trends that show increasing fire rates.”
The initiative resulted in a a 104 per cent increase in working fire alarms since the program’s launch, according to a March 4 progress report Garis wrote to Surrey’s Public Safety Committee.
According to the fire department, a working smoke alarm increases one’s chance of surviving a house fire by 74 per cent.
Garis notes HomeSafe is a “proactive, evidence-based fire prevention program” that connects local fire hotspots with social data linkages identified in a 2007 University of the Fraser Valley study to “target neighbourhoods with the greatest risk of fire and highest concentrations of high-risk residents.”
“Demographic data was extracted from Statistics Canada Census Survey and overlaid on a map of previous incidents of fires occurring in single dwelling residences,” Garis added. “Firefighters were given addresses within their areas to go door-do door distributing information on packages on fire safety,” in addition to offering the free smoke alarms and inspections.
Garis also wrote that firefighters continue to check the status of smoke alarms during calls for service, and install smoke or CO alarms if necessary. They also continue to carry out scheduled HomeSafe visits through community requests.
“Firefighters have also been trained to observe signs of human trafficking and elder abuse since they are well positioned within the community,” he noted. “In this way, the new firefighter/volunteer delivery model of the HomeSafe Program has enabled the Surrey Fire Service to amplify risk reduction efforts in the vulnerable sector of the community.”
Visit surrey.ca/city-services/4640.aspx to learn more about the program and request a free smoke alarm or HomeSafe inspection.