Victoria Fire Department Lt.-Insp. Brad Sifert holds a common household fire alarm. The department is handing out free alarms as part of its campaign to see all homes in the city equipped with the potentially lifesaving devices.

Fire department offers free smoke alarms to Victoria residents

Esquimalt and Oak Bay lack similar programs, but help install the devices

The Victoria Fire Department is offering free smoke alarms to residents as part of a province-wide push to protect every home in B.C.

Last year, a study by the University of Fraser Valley and Surrey Fire Services revealed almost 70 per cent of B.C. homes involved in fires did not have functioning smoke alarms.

The study also showed three quarters of 663 fire-related deaths across Canada were the result of smoke alarms that never sounded.

Victoria began implementing the program at the same time as Saanich last October, while Langford has provided free smoke alarms for more than five years.

“We carry smoke alarms on every engine and in all of our duty vehicles,” said Langford Deputy Fire Chief Kerry Zado. “Whenever we respond to a call, we make sure to never leave the house until it has a working smoke alarm in it.”

Esquimalt and Oak Bay fire departments do not have free smoke alarm programs, but both departments said they respond to residents who request help installing the devices.

Victoria purchased 200 smoke alarms and will assess demand in the coming months, said Fire Prevention Officer Brad Sifert, adding he received 50 phone calls on Tuesday alone.

“If callers aren’t in our jurisdiction, I just find out the location and send an email to their fire department,” he said.

Saanich fire crews have installed 110 smoke alarms in nearly 100 homes since October, said Lt. Andrew Collmar.

“It’s been very responsive,” he said. “Our fire chief has dedicated $1,000 to this program (this year), and we’re hoping it will be ongoing. Our ultimate goal is to have a smoke alarm in every house.”

Fire crews are also willing to help residents with optimal smoke alarm placement in their homes.

To learn more or to request a smoke alarm, call the Victoria Fire Department at 250-920-3365 or email bsifert@victoria.ca.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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