REPORTING · 26th March 2013
The Kitimat Fire Department is recognized around town as being one of the best Fire Departments in the Province of British Columbia. On Monday, March 25th, one of their programs, the smoke alarm campaign which has taken place over the past two summers, was recognized by Minister of Justice and Attorney General for the Province of BC, Shirley Bond who was in Kitimat before a crowd of children today.
Robert Krause, Volunteer Director of the Fire Chief’s Association of British Columbia, introduced Bond, Mayor Joanne Monaghan and the Fire Chief, Trent Bossence on behalf of the Fire Chiefs of British Columbia.
“The effort shown in Kitimat by the Fire Department and Local organizations is outstanding to work towards the goal of having a working smoke alarm in every home in the Province,” said Krause.
“One of the reasons I am here today is I have heard so much really good news about this particular Fire Hall and this team and the work that they are doing to make sure to keep British Columbian families safe,” said Bond.
She explained she got involved in the smoke alarm campaign because of research which was done on the data concerning fires. It was discovered that 70% of the homes that caught fire did not have a functional smoke alarm.
“Functioning smoke alarms can reduce fire deaths in the province by as much as 32%,” said Bond. She encouraged the kids to make sure, when they go home, to check their smoke alarm and make certain it works.
She thanked the partners in their campaign, Kiddie Canada and Black Press for coming on board and supplying $500,000 towards the campaign, which supplied 5000 smoke detectors for vulnerable populations in the province.
“Households who have low incomes, rural communities and on First Nations Reserves face greater risks of casualties from residential fires,” said Bond.
She thanked Black Press for letting their readers know about the importance of smoke alarms, mentioning an article they published about how the fire fighters went out and delivered pizza in one of the fire trucks as a part of their smoke alarm campaign.
For the last two summers, the Fire Department Summer Student Program locally has been working with the Pizza Factory / Bistro and Pizzarama to deliver pizzas around town. If the Fire Department Delivers your pizza and checks your smoke alarm, the order could be free if your alarm works. If it does not, the home owner receives a free smoke alarm.
“It’s not enough to simply have a smoke alarm in your house, you have to test it, you have to make sure that it works,” said Bond. “It’s so important, that we make sure our families are safe, by having a working smoke alarm.”
She thanked the fire rescue team in Kitimat for the good work they did. She heard about it all the way from Victoria.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan got up to say a few words. She thanked the Children for coming as well as Bond. “The Working Smoke Alarms save lives campaign has been a great success in Kitimat and there are many we need to thank for its success,” said Monaghan.
She thanked the sponsors, Emporium Building Supply, Olivia Backpacking, Ackland Granger, Enbridge, Kitimat LNG, Rio Tinto Alcan, Bechtel, Overwaitea, Dr. Gottschling, Pizzarama and Kitimat Pizza Bistro.
She thanked the insurance agencies, banks and relaters who provided smoke detectors to their clients. She thanked the Fire Department for putting on the initiative and the summer students who went out into the community during the summer to educate the public.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important a working home smoke alarm is. They protect property, but more importantly, they save lives. We have had two house fires in Kitimat during the month of March. We are very fortunate that although there was property damage, no one was injured, everyone got out safely,” said Monaghan.
Monaghan encouraged people to test their smoke alarms and contact the Kitimat Fire Department if they don’t work and they will supply the community free of charge. “I’m happy to go home and check mine, because mine checks itself once a week when I’m cooking,” joked Monaghan.
Krause stated the Smoke Alarm program was successful because of the Grass Roots Support it received in Kitimat and across the Province. He called Fire Chief Trent Bossence to speak.
“Fact is, working smoke alarms do save lives. Fact is, working smoke alarms give you a chance to escape. Deaths are more likely when victims are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or asleep when the smoke alarm does not work,” said Bossence.
He expressed the risk of a residential fire is not evenly distributed across the community. People who are at high risks are likely to have fires and least likely to have smoke alarms. These are people with health disadvantages, people who are addicted to substances, the young and the seniors. The latter are more likely to be living alone and be hearing impaired.
There were also 5 fatalities in BC First Nations communities over the last five of years. None of these homes have a working smoke alarm. This death rate is greater than the rest of the Province.
“We are building a network of partners, and our team is growing every day. Kitimat Fire and Ambulance services are committed to a safer community through our emergency program. This program is organized and delivered through university students and is designed to promote fire safety and emergency awareness to all of our community. Last year alone, 654 children and 920 homes received information about smoke alarms and how you make your home fire safe,” said Bossence.
He thanked the Mayor and Council, Community Sponsors and businesses which donated to the campaign. He thanked everyone for realizing the support to the campaign. He said if everyone had a working smoke alarm, ten more lives would be saved per year.
Bossance reminded people to check their smoke alarms. The children got to watch a demonstration of testing the alarm. Krause recognized Kitimat Fire and Ambulance for the work they do and called upon everyone to make sure there is a working smoke alarm in every house in BC, because they save lives.
Bond complimented to Kitimat Firechief, stating the program put on here has done very innovative things. She was drawn to the program in Kitimat by an article about how Pizza was delivered in a fire truck.
“Those are the kind of creative things which make a difference in this program but I’m also impressed with their work with Children. They’ve spent a lot of time teaching kids about how to deal with a fire and certainly today, we’ve taught them the importance of checking their smoke alarm twice a year,” said Bond.
She thanked the fire chief and the fire department for the hard work they do. Their overall goal of the program though is to put smoke detectors in each home. She also did a shout out to Black Press for getting the message across in all of the communities where they have papers.