Have two ways out and a smoke alarm to survive a fire

Fire Prevention Week held around BC, including Agassiz and Harrison

It’s Fire Prevention Week, and fire officials and the government are encouraging B.C. residents to learn two ways out of their home.

Each year, Fire Prevention Week highlights a key aspect of fire education. This year’s theme, Have Two Ways Out, focuses on preparing and knowing how to safely evacuate from your home.

In addition to creating a fire evacuation plan, they say every household in B.C. should have working smoke alarms – particularly in sleeping areas – and an extinguisher. Families are encouraged to check smoke alarm batteries monthly and mark their calendars to ensure they clean the devices twice a year.

In March, Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond and the president of the Fire Chiefs’ Association of BC, Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis, launched a smoke alarm campaign intended to ensure that every B.C. home has a working smoke alarm. More than 40 communities have since offered their residents assistance with installing and testing smoke alarms.

This week, fire service personnel will focus on empowering their communities to prevent home fires and protect families through appropriate planning, tools and education. Fire safety information, including booklets with fun family resources and a map to create a fire evacuation plan, are available online and through participating fire departments.

The Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department held their open house on Tuesday night, and the Agassiz Fire Department will hold their open house on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Len Garis, Surrey fire chief and Fire Chiefs’ Association of B.C. president said this year’s theme should be on our minds all the time.

“This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week is Have Two Ways Out. It’s an idea that should be in our minds at all times in the event of a fire, just as we must be mindful that working smoke alarms can save lives, particularly for B.C.’s most vulnerable families,” he said.

“How do we know this? Research in B.C. indicates there were 170 deaths in residential fires over the last five years, and 79 per cent of these occurred in homes that did not have a functioning smoke alarm. The majority of these people were over 65, very young, mentally or physically ill, economically disadvantaged or living in rural communities. Making sure you have planned two ways out of your home and that your smoke alarm is working will mean you and your family are better prepared to survive a fire.”