COVID-19 has led to more house fires in Calgary, fire chief says

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With four months of the year unaccounted for in those numbers, Dongworth expects there to be a significant increase over 2019, which saw 1,265 fire calls over the course of the year, 215 of those related to cooking fires.

The department’s key message this year is how to keep safety in the kitchen a priority, with cooking-related fires on a steady incline.

“Cooking fires are something that continue to be frequent for us, probably the leading cause of fires in the home, and so obviously that’s our main message this year is around being safe in the kitchen,” he said.

Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth speaks at a media press conference about the end of the department's Drive-By Birthday program but also the start of an initiative that will have drive-by birthdays continue for Calgarians turning 100. The chief spoke on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth speaks at a media press conference on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Photo by Gavin Young /Postmedia

Dongworth said that in addition to house fires, the department has also seen an increase in the number of calls related to the rising numbers of opioid overdoses in Calgary.

As part of fire prevention week, the department is also reminding Calgarians to change the batteries in or test their home alarms and develop fire plans.

“In concert with the smoke alarm and the carbon monoxide alarm is having a home escape plan, so when those alarms sound you have a plan of what are you going to do, who is going to call 911, where are you going to meet outside of the house to make sure everyone’s made it out safely,” he said.

Dongworth added that wild and grassfire risks have been rising across the province amid a lack of precipitation, with many parts of Alberta dry and windy.

“I was just looking at the reports from the forestry industry outside of Calgary and they still have some extreme fire risks in some areas and a very high fire risk for many areas that aren’t that far from Calgary.”

In 2018, CFD responded to 1,623 fire calls, 153 of which were cooking-related. In 2017, 185 of the 1,277 total calls were cooking-related. In 2016 there were 1,344 fire calls, 180 of them cooking-related, and in 2015 the CFD responded to 1,342 fire calls with 232 related to cooking.

Twitter: @oliviacondon

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