In Calgary, a recent string of house fires has people thinking about fire safety in the home.
Carol Henke, public information officer with the Calgary Fire Department, says kitchen fires are the most common residential call for the fire department, “and often it’s because people leave their cooking unattended.”
She says someone will put oil in a pan to heat up, and once the oil reaches its ignition temperature, it bursts into flames.
People often make things worse by trying to carry the pan out of the house, risking burns and potentially spreading the fire if they panic and drop the pan.
In this situation, Henke says you should put a cover on the pan of burning oil and turn off the heat. If flames have spread out of control, get everyone out of the house and call 911.
The most common cause of outdoor fires is improper disposal of smoking materials, according to Henke.
People often put out cigarettes in planter pots or combustible containers, or ones that are metal, but which have so many cigarette butts in them they can catch fire.
If something does cause a fire in your home, Henke says “having working smoke alarms on every level is what is going to alert you to the fact there is a fire.”
The way new homes are built has changed for the better when it comes to fire safety.
After an Edmonton fire in 2007 started in a four-unit condo complex, eventually destroying 18 nearby townhomes and damaging 70 houses, the province updated building, fire and electrical codes.
Rick Gratton, senior development manager of Calgary Homes for Brookfield Residential, says many of the changes relate to spatial separation.
Gratton says depending on how close the exterior of a house will be to the property line, there are limits on the number of side windows it can have, since openings in the walls allow fire to spread to an adjacent home more easily.
Gratton says tightly spaced homes also require increased use of fire-resistant sheeting and cladding. The codes even dictate materials needed during the construction phase, because partially built homes are especially susceptible to fire damage.
He says soffits are now required to be closed in to prevent fire from spreading into attics, and attached garages must be drywalled inside.
For more information, visit www.calgary.ca/fire.
Author: Gerald Vander Pyl