With fall’s arrival, fire hazards rise

Richmond Fire-Rescue’s Edgar Rodriguez takes a look at a gas-burning fireplace, which residents should have regularly tested and inspected, especially now that fall temperatures are here. - Martin van den Hemel photo
Richmond Fire-Rescue’s Edgar Rodriguez takes a look at a gas-burning fireplace, which residents should have regularly tested and inspected, especially now that fall temperatures are here.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

They are simple steps that everyone can take to prevent tragedy.

With fall’s arrival bringing cooler weather, locals are firing up their furnaces, wood-burning fireplaces and lighting their gas fireplaces to stay warm.

But residents should be mindful that some preventative measures like hiring a chimney sweep to clear the soot from their fireplaces or having a technician check their furnaces and gas fireplaces for problems is a good idea.

“Preventing home fires in Richmond is always our number one priority,” says Richmond Fire-Rescue deputy chief Kim Howell.

Planning for the worst couldn’t come at a better time, considering it’s national Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 9 to 15.

“Richmond residents play an important role by ensuring they pay attention to providing the best protection to keep their homes and families safe in the event of a fire,” Howell says. “This can be achieved by developing an escape plan which you practice regularly, and equipping homes with fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and home fire sprinklers.”

A few years ago, Richmond Fire-Rescue had to deal with one fire at a townhouse complex in West Richmond that was pinpointed to the use of a type of high-temperature log that claims to clear chimneys from soot build-up.

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These special logs burn at very high temperatures, which can become a safety hazard to the wood that surrounds the brick chimney. In at least one case, the wood surrounding the chimney caught fire, causing extensive damage and leading local officials to issue a public warning.

Brick chimneys and metal flues need to be professionally cleaned at least once per year.

As well, a little bit of clean-up can eradicate potential fire hazards.

Furnace rooms sometimes serve double duty as storage spaces during the summer, and that can lead to combustibles being too close for comfort to a fire source.

Other steps homeowners can take are:

• checking smoke detectors monthly

• be sure that coverage for fire is in your policy

• plan and practice a home fire drill with your entire family

• equip your home with an ABC fire extinguisher, which should be regularly checked.

During fire prevention week, Richmond Fire-Rescue will be hosting open houses from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each evening at five fire halls:

• Tuesday, Oct. 11 at Brighouse station, 6960 Gilbert Rd. and Steveston Fire Station, 11011 No. 2 Rd.

• Wednesday, Oct. 12 at Sea Island Fire Station, 3911 Russ Baker Way

• Thursday, Oct. 13 at Hamilton Fire Station, 22451 Westminster Hwy.

• Friday, Oct. 14 at Shellmont Fire Station, 9400 No. 4 Rd.

Two information sessions will also be held at local Canadian Tire outlets.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to noon, Blaze, Richmond Fire-Rescue’s new mascot, will be in attendance at the No. 3 Road branch of Canadian Tire, 3500 No. 3 Rd. There will be information about fire prevention, as well as activities for children. Blaze will then be visiting the Ironwood branch of Canadian Tire, 11338 Steveston Hwy. from 1 to 3 p.m. that same day.

For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website at

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