Education and awareness about fire safety
Burnaby Fire Department provides a wide range of fire safety public education programs to safeguard the lives and property of the City's residents. We have programs for all kinds of audiences, from young children to senior citizens.
By focusing on effective fire prevention and awareness programs, we aim to reduce fire-related deaths and injuries. We work with schools, community groups, agencies, businesses, volunteer organizations, citizens and others to address fire safety at home and workplaces.
Public education programs
Fire and life safety information
Top 5 causes of fires
Cooking brings family and friends together, provides an outlet for creativity and can be relaxing. But did you know that cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and home injuries?
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating is the second leading cause of home fires and injuries and the third leading cause of home fire deaths. These fires result in civilian deaths and injuries, including billions in direct property damage.
Electricity helps make our lives easier, but we often take its potential to cause fire-related hazards for granted.
Smokers need to know the steps they can take to keep themselves and their families safe from fire.
Candles may be pretty to look at, but they can cause home fires and deaths. Remember–a candle is an open flame, which means it can easily ignite anything that can burn.
Most fatal home fires happen at night when we're asleep. The smell of smoke may not wake us up until it's too late. Therefore, having a smoke alarm is an inexpensive but effective way to save lives. Smoke alarms will sound an alarm, alerting you to a fire and giving you those precious seconds to escape.
The BC Fire Code requires every private dwelling, hotel and motel room to have a working smoke alarm. Older homes and buildings may install battery-operated smoke alarms.
Things to remember
- Test smoke alarms monthly to make sure they're working.
- Develop and practice a home fire escape plan to ensure everyone knows what to do in case of fire.
- Replace battery operated and wired smoke alarms every 8-10 years. Check your manufacturer's user manual for care and maintenance instructions.
Types of smoke alarms
There are several different types of smoke alarms available. Some run on batteries and some connect to your household electricity. Some detect smoke using an ionization sensor, while others use a photoelectric detection system. Whatever type of smoke alarm you buy, ensure it is certified by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC).
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On floors without bedrooms, you must install alarms in or near living areas such as dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, hallways, dens, living rooms or family rooms.
Ensure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke alarms' alert even with bedroom doors closed. If not, or if any residents are hard of hearing, install additional alarms inside bedrooms. Smoke alarms that flash strobe light, in addition to sounding an audible alert, are available for the hearing impaired.
Smoke alarms are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages where cooking fumes, steam or exhaust could set off false alerts or for attics and other unheated spaces where humidity and temperature changes might affect an alarm's operation.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is often called the silent killer. It's an invisible, odourless, colourless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely. Heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel and wood-burning fireplaces and stoves are potential CO sources. Vehicles or generators running in an attached garage can also produce dangerous levels of CO.
Types of CO alarms
There are 3 types of CO alarms: battery-operated, plugin and hardwired into your household's current. Whatever kind of CO alarm you buy, ensure it is certified by an independent testing laboratory, like ULC. Install CO alarms in central locations outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.
If the alarm sounds, immediately move to a location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call 9-1-1 and stay outdoors until emergency personnel arrive.
Symptoms of CO poisoning:
CO poisoning can be confused with flu symptoms (without the fever), food poisoning and other illnesses. Symptoms may include:
- shortness of breath
High-level CO poisoning results in progressively more severe symptoms, including:
- mental confusion
- loss of muscular coordination
- loss of consciousness
Home escape plans
An escape plan can save your and your family's lives. Having an escape plan means your family knows how to evacuate.
Create an escape plan
- Visit each room and find 2 ways out.
- Draw a map of your home showing all the ways to exit the house. Ensure every family member understands it.
- Choose an outside meeting place like a neighbour's house or a stop sign a safe distance from your home where everyone can meet once they've evacuated.
- Make sure your smoke alarms are working by testing them every month.
- Ensure that your address can be seen from the street.
- Double-check that all windows and doors can be opened easily.
- Always keep a phone by your bed if you can't escape and need to call for help.
Who to include in your escape plan
Everyone in your home should be able to clearly understand how to escape in the event of a fire.
- Children: teach them how to escape on their own if you can't help them.
- Family members with disabilities: ensure you install smoke alarms with strobe lights or bed shakers if you have family members who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Practice your escape plan–that's the best way to ensure everyone is prepared and can evacuate confidently in the event of a fire.
Fire extinguishers can be helpful during small fires. Provide a checklist to help people prepare to use a fire extinguisher.
- Have I alerted others in the building that there's a fire?
- Has someone called the fire department?
- Am I physically able to use a fire extinguisher?
- Is the fire small and contained in a single object (like a pan or a wastebasket)?
- Am I safe from the fire's toxic smoke?
- Do I have a clear escape route?
Only use a fire extinguisher when you answer 'yes' to all of these questions. If you're unsure whether or not it's safe to use a fire extinguisher, alert others, leave the building and call 9-1-1 from a mobile or neighbour's phone. Children must not operate fire extinguishers.
Teach people how to use a fire extinguisher
When teaching people, ask them to memorize the acronym 'PASS', which stands for:
- Pull the pin: hold the extinguisher with the nozzle pointing away from you and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low: point the extinguisher at the base of the fire.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side to side.
Remember to check fire extinguishers for:
- Easy access in an emergency: ensure nothing is blocking or limiting your ability to reach it.
- Recommended pressure level: many extinguishers have gauges that show when pressure is too high or too low.
- Working parts: ensure the can, hoses and nozzles aren't damaged, dented or rusted.
- Cleanliness: remove any dust, oil, or grease that might be on the outside of the extinguisher.
- Guidelines and instructions: some extinguishers need to be shaken monthly. Others need to be pressure-tested every few years.
Types of extinguishers
There are 5 types of fire extinguishers, each designed to put out different kinds of fires.
For use with ordinary materials like cloth, wood and paper. Often found in homes and businesses.
For use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints. Often found in homes and businesses.
For use with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that's plugged in. Often found in homes and businesses.
For use with flammable metals. Often found in factories.
For use with vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances. Often found in commercial kitchens.
- For emergencies, call 9-1-1.
- For non-emergencies, call 604-294-7190.