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Province unveils new tool as fire-related deaths increase

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B.C.’s fire commissioner is reporting a 119 per cent increase in fire-related deaths over the last two years.

Between 2019 and 2021, fire-related deaths rose from 27 to 56 and in 2021 an additional 59 deaths occurred.

Provincial officials say only 42 per cent of reported residential structure fires had a working smoke alarm.

“I’m deeply concerned about the growing number of fire-related deaths in our province. We are working on tackling this problem, and the new Community Fire Risk Reduction Dashboard will be extremely important to helping us prevent fires and save lives,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General in a release.

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“I’m urging everyone to test their smoke alarms at least every six months to keep you and your family safe. Prevention is a key part of this because fewer fires mean healthier first responders and a safer province.”

Because of the increase in deaths, the province has partnered with Statistics Canada to create a community fire risk reduction dashboard.

According to government officials, the dashboard will provide statistical and geographical information to help B.C.’s fire services identify areas in communities at greatest risk of home fires.

“The new dashboard identifies the areas most at risk of fires, so we know where to focus our fire prevention and safety programs,” says Brian Godlonton, B.C.’s fire commissioner in a release.

“These advancements will not only prevent fires but, more importantly, prevent injuries and save lives.”

The dashboard will launch this July in Coquitlam, Surrey, and Port Alberni and roll out province-wide by early 2023.

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