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Report reveals leading cause of Vancouver fires in 2023

A Vancouver firefighter is seen in this undated image. (Shutterstock) A Vancouver firefighter is seen in this undated image. (Shutterstock)

The annual report for Vancouver Fire Rescue Services is highlighting some major challenges as it comes off a record year for calls.

According to the report, the opioid epidemic, fires at single-room occupancy residences, and lithium ion batteries are among the biggest challenges facing firefighters.

There were more than 72,000 calls for service in 2023, up 10 per cent from the previous year. Nearly half of the calls, 48 per cent, were for medical reasons. Just over a quarter of calls were for fires and fire alarms.

Both indoor and outdoor fires increased in 2023, the report said, with a total of 4,309 blazes in the city. That continued an upward trend in fire reports noted in the last five years.

Almost two-thirds of 2023's fires in Vancouver were caused by smoker materials.

"Smoker materials, such as lighters, matches, cigarettes, and pipes, constitute the main sources of fires in Vancouver," the report explained. "Therefore, advocating for responsible disposal practices and implementing strict regulations regarding the handling and disposal of these materials can play a crucial role in mitigating fire incidents within the city."

In spite of the increase in calls, emergency response time improved last year by 19 seconds, the report revealed. In 2023, it took six minutes and 46 seconds for crews to arrive on scene.

The report also said work was being done to support VFRS staff.

"We recognize the importance of prioritizing the mental health and wellness of our staff," a message from Chief Karen Fry, included in the report, said.

"The demanding nature of our work can take its toll, and we have implemented initiatives to support the emotional resilience and well-being of our team members. By fostering a culture of support and open communication, we aim to ensure that our firefighters have the resources and assistance they need to navigate the challenges they face." Top Stories

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