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B.C. launches $1.6M campaign aimed at reducing fire-related injuries, deaths

British Columbia recorded 86 fire-related deaths in 2022, according to the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

The OFC released its annual report on Thursday, in tandem with an announcement by B.C.’s government about a new $1.6-million campaign aimed at educating people about proper smoke-alarm use and fire safety.

"We are taking action to overturn the alarming trend of increasing fire-related deaths in our province," said Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s public safety minister and solicitor general, in a statement.

The number of fire-related deaths recorded last year represents a 46-per-cent annual increase, according to the OFC.

In total, the report found there were 9,087 fires in the province last year—the majority of which, 62 per cent, were recorded in the Lower Mainland.

The region with the second highest number of fires was the Thompson Okanagan, where 14 per cent were recorded, followed by Vancouver Island, which is where one in 10 blazes broke out.

Across B.C., 212 people were injured in fires in 2022, according to the OFC.

The report also found that a working smoke alarm was not present at more than half—55 per cent—of reported residential structure fires.

“Once a fire starts, people have very little time to get out of their home safely, making a working smoke alarm a critical tool for saving lives,” said Farnworth. “I’m urging everyone to test their smoke alarms at least once every six months to keep their home and family safe.”

In hopes of saving lives and protecting first responders, the province is entering two new partnerships.

One involving the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit will “promote community fire-risk reduction, including a comprehensive smoke-alarm social marketing campaign,” according to a statement issued Thursday.

B.C.’s government is also partnering with Statistics Canada to build a “Community Fire-Risk Reduction Dashboard.”

The dashboard will help fire services across the province identify the areas in different communities that face the greatest risk of residential fires, according to the release.

Data from the dashboard will also be used to help develop the BCIRPU smoke-alarm education campaign, which the government says will be broadcast around the province this fall.

Pilots of the dashboard were launched in 11 cities—including Coquitlam, Surrey, Kamloops, Sidney and Port Alberni—last July.

“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with the British Columbia Office of the Fire Commissioner, leveraging data to save lives,” said Anil Arora, chief statistician of Canada, on Thursday.

“The fire risk reduction dashboard demonstrates the need for national fire-incident information that can be integrated with other types of data for community-specific fire-prevention solutions.” Top Stories

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