Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Montreal Fires Start

The following is a story from today's Montreal Gazette, showing stats on how fires start in Montreal .Also there is a map showing percentage of fires per 1000 population, a colour legend indicates amount of fires, note Verdun has one of the lowest fire ratings per 1000 population, That must be because most of the sheds have been long torn down ? anyway here is the story.
  "To actually see the interactive map & legend you will have to clcik on this link, as they don't all show up in the article itself p[osted here,so go directly to the story in the Gazette for full account" 

What sparks Montreal fires? Flowerpots, kitchen-sink wood fires and sleepy smokers

Firefighters battle a house fire on rue de la Vallée-de-la-Loire in St. Lazare, a suburb west of Montreal March 25, 2016. PETER MCCABE / MONTREAL GAZETTE

SHAREADJUSTCOMMENTPRINTThis month, a fire sparked by a cigarette put out in a flowerpot on a triplex’s second-floor balcony left a dozen people homeless and caused $150,000 damage in Rosemont—La-Petite-PatrieIt was a reminder that, though Montreal’s fire death rate is falling, vigilance is still importantThe Montreal Gazette interviewed Daniel de Vries, a Montreal fire department division chief who oversees investigations, about what causes the most Montreal fires and why fewer people are dying in them.
What are the most common causes of fires in Montreal?
Cooking is the biggest cause, representing roughly 50 per cent of all our fires. The second is smoking — 10 to 15 per cent, depending on the year.
0326 city fires facebook
What are people cooking that’s so dangerous?
Fires are often related to oil-based frying, mostly at night — midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m. Sometimes, people are doing french fries and they have other things going on so they’re not keeping an eye on what they’re cooking. Or there are people who are new to Canada who are cooking using wood in their homes. We had two fires last year where people were burning wood in their sinks and cooking over it as a heat source. It’s something that they do in their countries and they think they can do it here but our buildings are not meant to be used like that. (Montreal fire department tip: If food in a pot or pan catches fire, cover it with its lid and turn off the stove. Don’t throw water, flour or anything else on it. Never move around with a pot that is on fire.)
What typically happens in smoking-related fires?
People usually fall sleep on the couch or they’re smoking in bed. Ten years ago, smoking was our top cause (of fires) but fewer and fewer people are smoking so it’s not causing as many fires. (About 10 years ago, cigarettes were also redesigned so they burn out more quickly when left unattended.) 

There was a case recently where it appears a cigarette put out in a flower pot caused a major fire. Is that kind of thing common?
It’s very rare – maybe two or three times a year. You have a flower pot with manure, organic materials, peat moss in it. Depending on the sun exposure and how hot it gets, you can have a spontaneous fire. In the summer, if you cut your grass, put it in a closed garbage bag and let it sit in the sun for a day or two, it’s going to get hot inside. That too can cause a fire.
Who is more likely to die in a fire?
The people who are most vulnerable are small children (up to age 5) and people 65 and older. (In 2015, the average age of the seven people who died in Montreal fires was 75). Older people are less mobile, less alert, and people are living longer and staying in their homes longer.
0329 city fires facebook2
Montreal’s fire death rate has dropped. What’s the secret?
Seven people died in 2015 fires (over the past 15 years, the average number of deaths per year was 15).
The death rate is the lowest it has been since the 2002 municipal mergers. It’s a combination of things.
Since 2010, we’ve hired 30 to 45 students every summer for 10 weeks. They go out and install smoke detectors in people’s homes – 10,000 to 15,000 every year. Toronto has a $5,000 budget for this kind of thing. We invest roughly $300,000 to $400,000 in our smoke-detector program every year
In 2012, we also created a single fire-prevention bylaw for the entire island. In the past, some areas had 30-year-old bylaws or no bylaws at all so homeowners did not have to have smoke detectors. With the new bylaw, the rules are the same across the island.
What about fire inspections?
We’re now doing a better job of focusing on the most important fire risks. 
All buildings that have 12 apartments or more have been visited at least once by fire inspectors since 2010, with inspectors focusing on critical elements and ensuring problems are fixed.
If people don’t have a working fire alarm, a working sprinkler system, if the exits are locked, if there are combustibles inside the exits, they are fined. We go back in 45 or 60 days and if the problem is still there, they get fined again.
For some problems, immediate action is required. If we inspect a bar and the exit in the back is locked, the exit door must be unlocked immediately.
This interview was edited and condensed for space.

Coming soon: an online database of Montreal fire-code scofflaws 

By the end of the year, you should be able to check online whether your landlord has been fined for contravening city of Montreal fire bylaws.
The fire department is working on a plan to post on its website the names of people and companies who have been fined for fire-code violations, said Daniel de Vries, a division chief with Montreal’s fire department.
It would be similar to the way Montreal posts information about restaurants fined for food-safety violations, he said. The city posts the name of the restaurant, the violations and the fines assessed.
“Let’s say you’re looking for an apartment for your daughter – you can look at the list and say, ‘Don’t rent here, don’t rent there,’” de Vries said.
“It’s so occupants know how safe their buildings are and it’s a message to the owners: ‘Listen, if you’re doing something wrong, we’re going to tell people.’”
Under Montreal’s bylaw, for first offences, individuals can be fined $500 for a fire-code offence, while companies face $1,000 fines. The fines are doubled for repeat offenders.
De Vries said the city hopes to have the online resource in place by September or October.

20 ways to reduce fire risk

  1. Frequently inspect and clean chimney flues, particularly when burning oil, coal or wood.
  2. Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from hitting the floor and rugs.
  3. Do not install a bulb with a higher wattage than the maximum indicated on the fixture.
  4. Install ground-fault circuit interrupters.
  5. Keep your attic tidy. Clutter such as clothing, boxes, books, magazines and newspapers not only fuels a fire but prevents firefighters from gaining access to extinguish the flames.
  6. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors outside bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Check batteries every spring and fall.
  7. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
  8. Consider investing in a lightning rod if your home is built on an elevated or exposed site.
  9. Ensure your garage is separated from the living quarters by a fire-resistant, self-closing door.
  10. Ensure your garage has properly wired light fixtures that are controlled by a switch rather than makeshift installations that use an extension cord.
  11. Do not store gasoline, solvents, waste or other flammable materials near your furnace or in your garage. Store them in an outbuilding away from your home.
  12. Ensure your fuses and circuit breakers work properly. Inspect aluminum wiring periodically. Consider hiring an electrician to review your wiring.
  13. If your home has a heating boiler, have it inspected and cleaned frequently. Do not block the air vent or damper. If your home has an oil tank, have it periodically inspected to ensure it is airtight so fuel oil does not overflow or leak.
  14. Remove excess lint from the lint trap of your clothes dryer and keep the exhaust vent clean.
  15. Don’t let dry leaves and debris collect near the outside walls of your home, particularly if you have wood or vinyl siding.
  16. Have enough electrical outlets to avoid the excessive use of extension cords. If an extension cord is needed, don’t run it under a rug.
  17. When cooking: Keep pot handles turned inward over the stove. Remove greasy build-up from the range hood and the filters.
  18. Do not leave lighted candles unattended or burning overnight.
  19. Do not leave a clothing iron or hair iron unattended.
  20. Never smoke in bed. Better yet, always smoke outside and away from the home. Be sure to securely store matches and lighters away from children

No comments: