Fire Prevention Week targets kitchen safety

The annual weeklong campaign runs Oct. 6-12 this year

Hope firefighters extinguish a blaze at a house on Marie Street earlier this year.

Fire Prevention Week kicks off on Sunday, with this year’s focus on preventing kitchen fires.

The weeklong campaign runs Oct. 6-12 and provides an opportunity for fire departments across the country to educate residents on how to protect their homes and families from fire. As of Sept. 30, Hope Fire Department has responded to 190 incidents this year, up 7.34 per cent from the same time frame in 2012.

“Alerting people to a fire or smoke in a house is one thing, but preventing that from happening is key,” said Hope Fire Chief Tom DeSorcy. “Kitchen fire safety is identifying the dangers and, if a fire does occur, learning how to deal with it.”

Kitchen fires typically originate from the stove or oven. Grease fires, in particular, are one of the most dangerous types of fires, so DeSorcy warns residents to be extremely cautious when cooking with oil.

“If a fire does occur, stay calm,” he added. “Never put water on it. Smother it by either using a lid of a pot or using a powder material such as flour.”

Residents are strongly encouraged to have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, which should be inspected regularly to make sure the fire retardant material has not hardened. DeSorcy said it’s also vital to have working smoke alarms throughout the house. It’s recommended that a smoke alarm be installed on every level and outside of every sleeping area.

“At the end of the day you need to be alerted if there’s smoke in your house,” said DeSorcy. “A working smoke alarm will save lives, but it doesn’t last forever. Ten years is the lifespan of a smoke alarm.”

As the communications director for the Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C., DeSorcy has been working on a provincial smoke alarm campaign for the last year. He became the voice and face for a series of public service announcements that were created to raise awareness about the importance of working smoke alarms. A new video directed at the Canadian Red Cross was recently completed in hopes that volunteers could help spread the message and test smoke alarms when they go into people’s homes.

Since the launch of the program in March 2012, there has been a 5.1 per cent decline in the absolute number of residential fires reported.

For more on the initiative, visit www.workingsmokealarms.ca