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Fighting fires before they start

Kamloops Fire Rescue is rolling out a door to door prevention program this week where crews will replace batteries and install new smoke alarms in Barnhartvale houses.
June 14, 2013 - 10:42 AM

Firefighters going door to door this week

KAMLOOPS - A Barnhartvale fire has presented Kamloops Fire Rescue with the opportunity to start rolling out a program to help residents understand the importance of fire prevention in their homes.

A family is lucky to be alive after a fire tore through their Barnhartvale house last weekend. The fact the two-storey home had only one smoke alarm in the house and the residents were unsure the last time the batteries were changed means the outcome could have easily been much worse.

Kamloops Fire life safety educator Sheldon Guertin says any time there is a fire, even if no one is hurt and the building is saved, it is still a loss for the department.

“Any time we see a fire in the community, even if it's a really good save, it's still a loss on our part. We are about prevention.”

Guertin adds a lot of the guys would rather be knocking on doors making sure preventions are in place than fighting a fire. So in a first for the city, that is what crews are doing this week.

Over the next several evenings crews will be going door to door in Barnhartvale asking residents if they have smoke alarms on each floor, if the alarms have fresh batteries and if the alarms are older than 10 years. If alarms or fresh batteries are missing, crews will install them for the residents. They will keep track of what they find, including whether an address is visible from the street, and will also take the opportunity to educate homeowners about the importance of smoke alarms and new technology available for the alarms.

“A lot of people don't understand how quickly a home can burn,” Guertin says, “it's a matter of a couple of minutes before a room is completely involved.”

Choosing Barnhartvale as a starting point was easy following the fire, Guertin notes. Because of the location response time is a bit slower than for other parts of the city and many of the homes were built before 1986, when smoke alarms became required.

In addition to the educational component and the replacing of alarms and batteries, a checklist will be completed for each house which will provide the basis for a study so the departments will know going forward what specific needs to address when it comes to prevention. Afterwards the department will assess their findings and use the data to roll out similar programs in other parts of the city. They also plan on completing a door to door survey and education program about carbon monoxide, Guertin says. They hope to use data to help form a bylaw about carbon monoxide detectors if needed.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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