Hamilton fire officials spark new education program after record number of deaths in 2016

News May 18, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton firefighters will be targeting homes without smoke alarms or devices that don't work  in a new fire safety program after a year that saw the highest the number of fire deaths in the city since the 1980s.

There were at total of 11 fire fatalities in the city in 2016, with nine of them occurring in the downtown (five deaths in Ward 4, three in Ward 3 and one in Ward 2). There were two fire fatalities outside of the core — in Wards 8 and 11.

Also, 32 of 37 of 2016's fire-related injuries occurred in the lower city.

Hamilton fire Chief Dave Cunliffe, in presenting the Hamilton Fire Service’s 2016 annual report to members of the emergency and community services committee on May 18, said there were 287 structure fires in 2016, which marks another decrease in the number of fires over the last four years. In 2012 Hamilton saw a high of 344 structure fires, followed by 297 in 2014 and 300 in 2015.

The major areas of the structure fires were concentrated in the downtown with Ward 3 having the most at 55, followed by Ward 2 with 50, Ward 4 at 40 and Ward 1 at 16. Wards 7 and 8 had 22 and 23 structure fires, while Wards 9 and 10 had the lowest number of structure fires at six and seven respectively, followed by Wards 11 and 13 with nine, and Wards 12, 14 and 15 experiencing 12, 10 and 11 structure fires respectively.

The downtown also felt the brunt of the city’s total financial losses of $14.5 million, with Ward 3 suffering the highest losses in finances among the wards with $2.6 million, followed by Ward 15 — in Flamborough — with $1.8 million in losses. Ward 2 had $1.5 million in losses, Ward 4 had $1.2 million and Ward 1 had just over $1 million.

Ward 13 had the lowest financial impact at $38,000, followed by Ward 9 at $95,000.

The main cause of residential fires, said Cunliffe, was careless smoking in 44 cases, unattended cooking was to blame in 34 incidents, electrical was the cause in 26 fires, arson was identified in 20 fires and combustible materials in 17 fires. In 59 fires, the cause was undetermined.

“These fires were preventable,” said Cunliffe. “It was based on people’s behaviour.”

He made it a point that a fire fatality or a structural fire could happen anywhere across the city.

He said about 48 per cent of the homes involved in a fire had working smoke alarms, while 64 per cent of the deaths had no working smoke alarms.

“That number is unacceptable,” said Cunliffe. “(Smoke alarms) could have provided at least an early warning.”

At a fire on Grenfell Avenue last October where three citizens died, fire officials found four smoke alarms in the house, but three didn’t have batteries.

Those numbers prompted Cunliffe to initiate a door-to-door education program for all Hamilton residents in an effort to inform homeowners about fire safety. John Verbeek, assistant deputy fire chief, said volunteer and career firefighters will be visiting all residents to talk about smoke alarms and other safety measures, such as an escape plan.

He said last year after the two severe fires, the fire department conducted a public awareness campaign in co-operation with CityHousing Hamilton where they met with about 1,000 citizens in an effort to reduce house fires.

Cunliffe said homes are built today with materials that are more combustible, and combined with modern furniture, a residence can burn fast with more devastation, while giving off toxic fumes.

Still, he said it’s people’s behaviour that causes most fires, either careless smoking or leaving unattended cooking pans on the stove.

“It’s what people are doing in their home that creates the issue,” he said.

Under the building code, a residence needs to have a working smoke alarm, either battery-operated or hard wired. Cunliffe says both are recommended. He said if a house does not have a working smoke alarm, residents are required to install one within 24 hours or they will be charged.

“(Smoke alarms) are not something new,” said Cunliffe. “(People) have known for many years that they need to have these smoke alarms.”

Meanwhile 2016 found the Hamilton fire department responding to more calls than the last two years reaching 30,157 compared to 28,282 calls in 2015 and 26,352 calls in 2014. About 70 per cent of the calls are for medical responses, said Cunliffe, which are also increasing every year, especially as Hamilton’s population ages.

Hamilton fire officials spark new education program after record number of deaths in 2016

News May 18, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton firefighters will be targeting homes without smoke alarms or devices that don't work  in a new fire safety program after a year that saw the highest the number of fire deaths in the city since the 1980s.

There were at total of 11 fire fatalities in the city in 2016, with nine of them occurring in the downtown (five deaths in Ward 4, three in Ward 3 and one in Ward 2). There were two fire fatalities outside of the core — in Wards 8 and 11.

Also, 32 of 37 of 2016's fire-related injuries occurred in the lower city.

Hamilton fire Chief Dave Cunliffe, in presenting the Hamilton Fire Service’s 2016 annual report to members of the emergency and community services committee on May 18, said there were 287 structure fires in 2016, which marks another decrease in the number of fires over the last four years. In 2012 Hamilton saw a high of 344 structure fires, followed by 297 in 2014 and 300 in 2015.

The major areas of the structure fires were concentrated in the downtown with Ward 3 having the most at 55, followed by Ward 2 with 50, Ward 4 at 40 and Ward 1 at 16. Wards 7 and 8 had 22 and 23 structure fires, while Wards 9 and 10 had the lowest number of structure fires at six and seven respectively, followed by Wards 11 and 13 with nine, and Wards 12, 14 and 15 experiencing 12, 10 and 11 structure fires respectively.

The downtown also felt the brunt of the city’s total financial losses of $14.5 million, with Ward 3 suffering the highest losses in finances among the wards with $2.6 million, followed by Ward 15 — in Flamborough — with $1.8 million in losses. Ward 2 had $1.5 million in losses, Ward 4 had $1.2 million and Ward 1 had just over $1 million.

Ward 13 had the lowest financial impact at $38,000, followed by Ward 9 at $95,000.

The main cause of residential fires, said Cunliffe, was careless smoking in 44 cases, unattended cooking was to blame in 34 incidents, electrical was the cause in 26 fires, arson was identified in 20 fires and combustible materials in 17 fires. In 59 fires, the cause was undetermined.

“These fires were preventable,” said Cunliffe. “It was based on people’s behaviour.”

He made it a point that a fire fatality or a structural fire could happen anywhere across the city.

He said about 48 per cent of the homes involved in a fire had working smoke alarms, while 64 per cent of the deaths had no working smoke alarms.

“That number is unacceptable,” said Cunliffe. “(Smoke alarms) could have provided at least an early warning.”

At a fire on Grenfell Avenue last October where three citizens died, fire officials found four smoke alarms in the house, but three didn’t have batteries.

Those numbers prompted Cunliffe to initiate a door-to-door education program for all Hamilton residents in an effort to inform homeowners about fire safety. John Verbeek, assistant deputy fire chief, said volunteer and career firefighters will be visiting all residents to talk about smoke alarms and other safety measures, such as an escape plan.

He said last year after the two severe fires, the fire department conducted a public awareness campaign in co-operation with CityHousing Hamilton where they met with about 1,000 citizens in an effort to reduce house fires.

Cunliffe said homes are built today with materials that are more combustible, and combined with modern furniture, a residence can burn fast with more devastation, while giving off toxic fumes.

Still, he said it’s people’s behaviour that causes most fires, either careless smoking or leaving unattended cooking pans on the stove.

“It’s what people are doing in their home that creates the issue,” he said.

Under the building code, a residence needs to have a working smoke alarm, either battery-operated or hard wired. Cunliffe says both are recommended. He said if a house does not have a working smoke alarm, residents are required to install one within 24 hours or they will be charged.

“(Smoke alarms) are not something new,” said Cunliffe. “(People) have known for many years that they need to have these smoke alarms.”

Meanwhile 2016 found the Hamilton fire department responding to more calls than the last two years reaching 30,157 compared to 28,282 calls in 2015 and 26,352 calls in 2014. About 70 per cent of the calls are for medical responses, said Cunliffe, which are also increasing every year, especially as Hamilton’s population ages.

Hamilton fire officials spark new education program after record number of deaths in 2016

News May 18, 2017 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton firefighters will be targeting homes without smoke alarms or devices that don't work  in a new fire safety program after a year that saw the highest the number of fire deaths in the city since the 1980s.

There were at total of 11 fire fatalities in the city in 2016, with nine of them occurring in the downtown (five deaths in Ward 4, three in Ward 3 and one in Ward 2). There were two fire fatalities outside of the core — in Wards 8 and 11.

Also, 32 of 37 of 2016's fire-related injuries occurred in the lower city.

Hamilton fire Chief Dave Cunliffe, in presenting the Hamilton Fire Service’s 2016 annual report to members of the emergency and community services committee on May 18, said there were 287 structure fires in 2016, which marks another decrease in the number of fires over the last four years. In 2012 Hamilton saw a high of 344 structure fires, followed by 297 in 2014 and 300 in 2015.

The major areas of the structure fires were concentrated in the downtown with Ward 3 having the most at 55, followed by Ward 2 with 50, Ward 4 at 40 and Ward 1 at 16. Wards 7 and 8 had 22 and 23 structure fires, while Wards 9 and 10 had the lowest number of structure fires at six and seven respectively, followed by Wards 11 and 13 with nine, and Wards 12, 14 and 15 experiencing 12, 10 and 11 structure fires respectively.

The downtown also felt the brunt of the city’s total financial losses of $14.5 million, with Ward 3 suffering the highest losses in finances among the wards with $2.6 million, followed by Ward 15 — in Flamborough — with $1.8 million in losses. Ward 2 had $1.5 million in losses, Ward 4 had $1.2 million and Ward 1 had just over $1 million.

Ward 13 had the lowest financial impact at $38,000, followed by Ward 9 at $95,000.

The main cause of residential fires, said Cunliffe, was careless smoking in 44 cases, unattended cooking was to blame in 34 incidents, electrical was the cause in 26 fires, arson was identified in 20 fires and combustible materials in 17 fires. In 59 fires, the cause was undetermined.

“These fires were preventable,” said Cunliffe. “It was based on people’s behaviour.”

He made it a point that a fire fatality or a structural fire could happen anywhere across the city.

He said about 48 per cent of the homes involved in a fire had working smoke alarms, while 64 per cent of the deaths had no working smoke alarms.

“That number is unacceptable,” said Cunliffe. “(Smoke alarms) could have provided at least an early warning.”

At a fire on Grenfell Avenue last October where three citizens died, fire officials found four smoke alarms in the house, but three didn’t have batteries.

Those numbers prompted Cunliffe to initiate a door-to-door education program for all Hamilton residents in an effort to inform homeowners about fire safety. John Verbeek, assistant deputy fire chief, said volunteer and career firefighters will be visiting all residents to talk about smoke alarms and other safety measures, such as an escape plan.

He said last year after the two severe fires, the fire department conducted a public awareness campaign in co-operation with CityHousing Hamilton where they met with about 1,000 citizens in an effort to reduce house fires.

Cunliffe said homes are built today with materials that are more combustible, and combined with modern furniture, a residence can burn fast with more devastation, while giving off toxic fumes.

Still, he said it’s people’s behaviour that causes most fires, either careless smoking or leaving unattended cooking pans on the stove.

“It’s what people are doing in their home that creates the issue,” he said.

Under the building code, a residence needs to have a working smoke alarm, either battery-operated or hard wired. Cunliffe says both are recommended. He said if a house does not have a working smoke alarm, residents are required to install one within 24 hours or they will be charged.

“(Smoke alarms) are not something new,” said Cunliffe. “(People) have known for many years that they need to have these smoke alarms.”

Meanwhile 2016 found the Hamilton fire department responding to more calls than the last two years reaching 30,157 compared to 28,282 calls in 2015 and 26,352 calls in 2014. About 70 per cent of the calls are for medical responses, said Cunliffe, which are also increasing every year, especially as Hamilton’s population ages.