VANCOUVER - The B.C. government, Food Banks BC and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) are supporting a provincial campaign to help ensure B.C.'s most vulnerable families have working smoke alarms in their homes.
As part of its support, AANDC will be matching an earlier commitment from manufacturer Kidde Canada to provide 2,500 free smoke alarms to on-reserve Aboriginal families, whom research has shown to be at elevated risk of fatality in residential fires.
Today, B.C.'s 93 food banks have made the commitment to join forces with fire services across the province to make free smoke alarms available to interested individuals and families whose accommodation lacks a working smoke alarm - one of the most essential tools to save lives and property in the event of fire.
In March, Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond and Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, president of the Fire Chiefs' Association of BC, launched a smoke alarm campaign intended to ensure every B.C. home has a working smoke alarm.
Research by Surrey Fire Services and the University of the Fraser Valley shows almost 70 per cent of homes that caught fire lacked a functioning smoke alarm - and that households in low-income areas, in rural communities and on First Nations reserves face greater risk of fatality from residential fires.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General -
"Food Banks BC and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada are natural partners in our smoke alarm campaign, providing a critical link between the free alarms available and those families across B.C. whose safety will really benefit from them. It's key to stress, though, that smoke alarms are the best, first line of defence for everyone in the case of a residential fire, no matter where you live.
"As Fire Prevention Week continues, I encourage everyone to take time to get a smoke alarm or test the ones they already have. I also recommend they consider this year's theme - Have Two Ways Out - and develop and practice an evacuation plan for their family in case of a fire."
John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada -
"Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is proud to match the previous donation by Kidde Canada to provide 2,500 smoke alarms to First Nations people living on reserve. I believe these smoke alarms are not only practical but they will also be sending a strong daily reminder of the importance of fire prevention in the home."
John McKearney, chief and general manager, Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services -
"Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services is proud to partner with other first responders, fire, police, ambulance, food banks and community care providers, to test smoke alarms in the home. This initiative will make for safer communities.
"Firefighters regularly witness devastating scenes; this proactive approach to preventing a tragedy aligns with the mission of Vancouver Fire & Rescue, which is to serve as 'Community Safety Practitioners', providing excellence in protection, education, prevention and safety."
Laura Lansink, executive director, Food Banks BC -
"We are encouraged that this opportunity will allow our 93 Food Banks BC members across the province to further help the vulnerable in their communities through a partnership between their food bank and local fire department. Our food banks already work to support and assist many 'at risk' individuals, including single parents, seniors and children, and this is an excellent chance for these individuals to receive what most of us would consider to be a basic device in every home, a functioning smoke alarm.
"Food Banks BC looks forward to participating in this program and ultimately seeing the long-term benefits that these smoke alarms will make to the clients that food banks support each day."
- In total, Kidde Canada has donated 5,000 smoke alarm units, to be divided equally between First Nations families on reserve and other vulnerable populations, including lower-income and rural families.
- With today's AANDC contribution, that brings the total number of smoke alarms available to vulnerable B.C. families to 7,500.
- Data from the Office of the Fire Commissioner shows that in 11,000 residential fires in B.C. from 2006 to 2011, nearly 70 per cent of the fire scenes examined either had no smoke alarm or the smoke alarm was not working.
- A University of the Fraser Valley study extrapolates that 69 deaths across Canada could be prevented each year if all Canadian homes had working smoke alarms.
- Other campaign partners include the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Black Press, RCMP, Vancouver Police, BC Ambulance, and approximately 50 B.C. communities.
Information about the smoke alarm campaign is at: www.fcabc.ca
The study by Surrey Fire Services and the University of the Fraser Valley is at: www.ufv.ca/Assets/CCJR/Reports+and+Publications/Smoke_Alarms_Work$!2c_But_not_Forever.pdf
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice