Red Deer fire marshal Wes Van Bavel said residents should make sure they have a home escape plan, a smoke alarm and understand how to prevent fires from happening during Fire Prevention Week. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Red Deerians reminded to stay safe with Fire Prevention Week

Red Deerians are being asked to be proactive when it comes to safety during Fire Prevention Week.

Owning a working smoke alarm, preventing fires in the first place and having a home escape plan are the key things to focus on during this year’s national week, which goes from Oct. 8 to 14.

Wes Van Bavel, City of Red Deer emergency services fire marshal, said it’s important to always have two ways out of the home in the event of a fire.

“You need to have a plan if something goes wrong,” Van Bavel said. “It’s important you make sure you watch what you’re doing when you’re cooking and make sure you have those smoke alarms working.”

Red Deer has a lower fire call rate than the provincial average, said Van Bavel. For every 1,000 residents Red Deer firefighters received 0.67 fire calls a month in 2016. Provincially 1.2 fire calls are made for every 1,000 people.

In 2004 there were 1.16 fire calls for every 1,000 people in Red Deer, so the city implemented a Home Safety Plan. The plan has emergency service workers go to residences, schools and businesses to discuss how people can be more safe.

“The best way to educate people is by talking to them face-to-face,” he said. “When you look at our statistics over the last 12 years, we feel this is making a difference.”

It has been years since there has been a fire-related death in the city, Van Bavel added.

“People are listening and heeding our warnings. They’re taking precautionary steps to make their homes safe and I think that’s a testament to the people of Red Deer.

“We believe we’re doing well in the City of Red Deer,” Van Bavel said. “It’s a compliment to the citizens knowing they take fire safety so seriously.”

Red Deer Emergency Service workers conduct over 4,000 business inspections every year.

More than 37,000 residences in the city were checked in 2015. About 8,000 smoke alarms were installed during those checks.

Fire Prevention Week has been held every year in October since 1925. The week first began in commemoration of the Great Chicago fire in 1871.

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