How Many Homes Do Fires Claim in Vancouver?

How Many Homes Do Fires Claim in Vancouver?

March 28, 2024 Blog Home Safety 0

Canada is no stranger to fires. The country had more than 30,000 fire incidents annually from 2017 to 2021, according to data from Statistics Canada. Of these, over 11,000 fire incidents were due to wildfires, while about 10,000 were caused by residential fires.

Residential fires are blazes that occur in structures where people live whether temporarily or permanently. This includes single detached houses, semi-detached houses, duplexes, apartments, camp sites, and more.

In British Columbia, where the city of Vancouver is located, total fire incidents ranged from more than 6,000 to less than 10,000 per year from 2017 to 2021. Of these, residential fires were over 2,000 annually. 

If you’re wondering how many homes fire claims in Vancouver, read on to find out. 

Vancouver Residential Fire Statistics

In 2023, the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services reported a total of 4,309 fires. Of these, 1,225 were structure fires, which include residential fires. Structure fires also cover blazes in buildings, bridges, tents, grandstands, and other properties.

According to the report, structure fires in Vancouver increased by 17% in 2023. A majority (59%) of these fires were started by smoker materials, which include matches and lighters as well as cigarettes and pipes. Meanwhile, 31% were started in sleeping quarters and 25% in the kitchen or cooking areas (25%). 

Observing the Law Can Prevent Residential Fires

One of the major fires that the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services responded to was that of the apartment building at 414 East 10th Avenue. At the time of the fire in July, the city had allegedly issued 20 fire safety violations to its owners. 

According to the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services report, the top 5 violations included fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, fire and exit doors, and sprinkler systems. News reports allege that the building’s landlord had most of these violations, in addition to piling up combustible materials like wood and plastics. Charges have been filed in court. 

The fire displaced 70 people and it took over 70 firefighters to respond to the blaze. As a result, the city’s fire chief issued an “unsafe to occupy” order the following day. 

“Everybody knew how unsafe the building was, before it burned down,” Mike McKay, a resident of five years, told the Vancouver Sun. “We phoned the city multiple times.”

The three-story apartment in Mount Pleasant was built in 1978, so it’s old and requires maintenance to keep it up to code. But apparently, this wasn’t the case with this property. According to a CBC report, the city of Vancouver has taken the landlords to court twice in three years for more than 25 violations. As of May 2023, the owners were charged with 20 more violations, which have been outstanding for over a year before the court filing.

“That building is not any different from many other problem buildings in the city,” Ray Bryant, former assistant chief of fire prevention and fire investigations for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services (VFRS) from 2016 to 2021, told CBC.

How to Prevent a Fire From Claiming Your Home in Vancouver

As a homeowner, there are steps you can take to make sure that the chances of a blaze from igniting in your house is minimized. Your fire prevention plan could include placing fire extinguishers at high-risk fire-prone areas like the kitchen, installing a smoke alarm or fire alarm system as well as a sprinkler system, and to always ensure that fire exits are free from obstruction. If something is blocking your emergency exit or fire door, you can call 911 for the assistance of Fire Dispatch. 

Of course, make sure that these fire prevention mechanisms are functioning in order to avoid destruction of property, injury, or death. “We are having too many fires and too many people are losing their lives in structure fires when those deaths could have been prevented,” British Columbia Fire Commissioner Brian Godlonton told the Vancouver Sun. Godlonton was referring to the fact that only 45% of homes devastated by fires in 2022 had working fire alarms. 

Smoke alarms

You should install a battery-powered smoke alarm on every level of your home, which will still work in the event of a power failure. That’s the minimum. If you have family members who are heavy sleepers or children, it is recommended that you install one in their room as well. 

Test the smoke alarms every month, vacuum at least once every six months, and replace the batteries every year. Hard-wired smoke alarms should be connected directly to your backup power system. If you need to replace your smoke alarms, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.  

Fire escape plan

A very simple thing you can do to give yourself some time to escape from a fire is to close your bedroom door before you sleep. Doing so will not only keep the fire out but also the smoke, which can be deadly. 

Other than this, your entire household should know your home’s floor plan and the two exit points from every room. Ensure that windows can be easily opened from the inside. If there are security bars in your windows, they should also have a quick-release mechanism. Your fire escape plan should also take into consideration any young children or people with mobility issues as they will need some help from other family members. 

Once outside, you should go immediately to your family’s meeting place, make sure everyone is safe, and call 911 to report the fire. 

Regular fire drill

They say practice makes perfect, and in the event of a fire, your fire drill know-how will come in handy and could save your life. Everyone should know all the exits and remember how to behave in the event of a fire. 

For instance, safety must be the first priority so don’t think of carrying any possessions while you are still in danger. Stay low to avoid inhaling smoke and feel doors for heat before entering a room. 

If you’ve managed to go out, head directly to your designated family meeting place and call 911. If you’re trapped in a room, use clothing or blankets to seal openings around vents and doors and then call 911, if you can. If not, try to open the window, turn on the light as a signal, or call for help.

How many homes do fires claim in Vancouver?

In Vancouver, residential fires are a significant concern, with over 2,000 structure fires annually. By observing fire safety measures and having an escape plan, homeowners can minimize the risk of losing their homes.