Victoria Fire Department offers free smoke alarms

The Victoria Fire Department is offering free smoke alarms to city residents in an effort to increase home safety.

The effort is part of a provincewide smoke-alarm campaign that could potentially reduce fire deaths each year by up to 32 per cent, said Victoria Fire Chief Jeff Lambert. Close to 70 per cent of fires probed in B.C. from 2006 to 2011 involved a site without a working smoke alarm, according to the Office of the Fire Commissioner.

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Statistics show that those at the highest risk of dying in a residential fire in B.C. include seniors, children, people with disabilities and those living in rental properties or low-income households. The fire department is working with the Mustard Seed Food Bank and Ready to Rent B.C. to ensure that safety information is distributed.

Fire prevention officer Brad Sifert said the department purchased 200 smoke alarms to get the program going. The total cost was about $2,000, thanks in part to special consideration from suppliers. “I think all the municipalities have been doing it to a degree,” he said. “We just want to get it out there.”

The Saanich Fire Department announced a similar plan last fall.

Victoria residents can arrange for a fire prevention officer to visit their homes to determine the best locations for a smoke alarm, install new alarms or test existing ones.

If they need a new alarm, they’ll be given one.

The offer of a free smoke alarm will be in place indefinitely, Sifert said. “As long as there’s a need for it, we’re going to keep this going.”

Sifert said a number of companies will be approached to help with maintaining the alarm supply. For more information, contact 250-920-3365, email bsifert@victoria.ca or go to victoria.ca.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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