Think Before You Toss
Smoking Materials and Fire Risk
As more people have moved outside to smoke, there’s been a shift in smoking-related fires from indoors to outdoors. Instead of the sofa or bed catching fire, fires in planters on balconies or decks have been a growing concern. In dry conditions, it doesn’t take much more than a butt tossed off a balcony or from a vehicle window to start a grassfire that could potentially affect an entire community. Smoking outdoors may reduce risks inside, but it comes with a new set of risks outside.
Smoking materials are responsible for many preventable fires. Every time you light a cigarette, you potentially increase the risk of an unintended fire.
While accidents do happen, smoking-related fires are almost always preventable with a bit of caution and forethought. Consider the following tips if you’re a smoker, if you have a smoker living in your home, or if you have a business or property where smoking happens.
Fires occurred while cigarettes were being used, the battery was being charged, or the device was being transported. Battery failures have led to small explosions.
Never leave charging e-cigarettes unattended. E-cigarettes should be used with caution.
The best way to extinguish your cigarette is in a non-combustible container filled with a non-combustible material. That could be sand in a metal bucket, a can, or in a glass jar. The biggest thing to remember is that planters or flower pots are NEVER a safe place for cigarette butts. The soil in planters or pots often contains material that can burn or smoulder for hours. You could think you’ve successfully stubbed out a cigarette in the morning, only to have the back of your house fully engulfed in flames by the afternoon. Sand in an empty can is cheap and easy. Replacing a home is not.
Fireworks not Permitted in the City of Abbotsford
- Every year, thousands of people – most of them children – are treated in emergency rooms for serious injuries related to fireworks.
- Fireworks (sparklers and firecrackers included) are not toys.
- The City of Abbotsford has banned the sale, use, and discharge of fireworks. Some of the important points for Fire Rescue Service members are:
- No person may offer for sale, sell, give or trade Fireworks within the City boundaries.
- No person may have Fireworks within the City boundaries.
- No person may fire or discharge Fireworks within the City boundaries.
- Don’t get caught up in the holiday spirit —make sure your children trick-or-treat safely.
- Rather than buying a mask, use makeup, so the children can see more easily.
- If your kids go trick-or-treating after dusk, make sure they have a flashlight and are wearing reflective material.
- Dress children in warm, light colored clothing, so that they may be easily seen when crossing the street.
- Do not purchase Halloween costumes and other items which are not marked “Flameproof” or “Flame-Retardant”.
- Remind children to skip houses that are not well-lit.
- Check candy before allowing kids to eat it.
- Avoid tricks that could cause bodily injury, destroy property, or cause a fire.
Get Ahead of the Winter Freeze
It’s not too early to begin preparing for the heating season. Check these 10 tips and get ahead of the winter freeze.
- Furnace has been inspected and serviced by a qualified professional during the last 12 months. (furnace should be serviced at least once a year)
- Chimneys and vents have been cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional. Checked for creosote build-up. (Not cleaning the chimney is the leading cause of chimney fires from built up creosote. This service needs to be done at least once a year.)
- Wood for fireplace or wood stove is dry, seasoned wood.
- Fireplace screen is metal or heat-tempered glass, in good condition and secure in its position in front of the fireplace.
- A covered metal container ready to use to dispose cooled ashes. (The ash container should be kept at least 10 feet from the home and any nearby buildings.)
- Children know to stay at least 3 feet away from the fireplace, wood/pellet stove, oil stove or other space heaters.
- Portable space heaters have an automatic shut-off.
- Portable space heaters will be plugged directly into an outlet (not an extension cord) and placed at least three feet from anything that can burn; like bedding, paper, walls, and even people. (Place notes throughout your home to remind you to turn-off portable heaters when you leave a room or go to bed.)
- We have tested our smoke alarms and made sure they are working. (You need a smoke alarm on every level of the home, inside each bedroom and outside each sleeping area. For the best protection, the smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.)
- Tested the carbon monoxide alarms and made sure they are working. (Carbon monoxide alarms should be located outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.)
Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed.
Christmas Tree Safety
- If you have a natural tree, make sure it isn’t losing needles (this means it is too dry and poses an increased fire hazard).
- Cut 2 inch off the trunk to aid water absorption.
- Use a tree stand that holds at least 1 gallon of water. Refill it every two days.
- Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.
- Secure the tree so that it doesn’t tip over.
- If you purchase an artificial tree, make sure it is flame-resistant and CSA or ULC approved.
- Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights. Don’t block stairways or entrances.
- Never use lighted candles on or near a Christmas tree, be it natural or artificial.
- After Christmas - Get rid of the tree after Christmas or when it is dry. Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
- Be careful with holiday decorations. Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Keep lit candles away from decorations and other things that can burn. Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
- Keep decorations away from windows and doors.
- Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read
- manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
- Use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged.
- Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles.
- Keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
- Stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop.
- Ask smokers to smoke outside. Remind smokers to
- keep their smoking materials with them so young children do not touch them.
- Provide large, deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet cigarette butts with water before discarding.
- Use fewer lights when decorating for energy savings and increased safety.
- Do not use frayed or damaged strings of lights or extension cords.
- Use only CSA or ULC approved light sets.
- Never use indoor lights outdoors.
- Do not string more than 3 sets of lights together.
- Do not overload extension cords or electrical outlets.
- Turn off and unplug all holiday lights when you leave home or go to sleep.
- Use a timer to turn lights on and off in your absence.
- Keep excess electrical cord away from high-traffic areas.
- Never use staplers to secure cords.
- Make sure that replacement bulbs are of equivalent or lower wattage than the manufacturer’s recommendation.
- Do not let young children plug or unplug the lights.
- Never yank on the cord to unplug lights. Pull the plug from the outlet.
Infant and Child Fire Safety
Infant fire safety is one of the most important things to think about as a parent. Know what to do to keep your child safe.
Baby Proofing Steps:
- Secure your Fireplace.
- Use Safety Gates.
- Use Door Locks.
- Make your Windows Safe.
- Take a Special Look at Kitchens and Baths.
- Everyday Cleaners and Chemicals.
Baby proofing is extremely important, but remember, nothing takes the place of adult supervision.
For Car Seat Inspections, please contact the Community Policing Division of the Abbotsford Police at 604-864-4814 to set up an appointment with an on duty tech.
When you are babysitting, keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Discuss the family’s fire escape plan before the parents leave.
- Ask the parents if the house has working smoke alarms.
- If you smell smoke, hear a smoke alarm or see flames, get yourself and the children out. Remember; get out and stay out!
- Take the children to a neighbour’s house and call 9-1-1 from there.
- Call the parents.
- Do not go back inside the home for any reason.
Fire Safety at Home
- It is recommended that smoke alarms be installed on every floor of your home and outside each sleeping area. For maximum protection, install a smoke alarm in every bedroom, especially if you sleep with your bedroom door closed.
- Install smoke alarms high on a wall or on the ceiling. Keep smoke alarms away from anything that can blow smoke away from the sensor, such as windows, air registers and ceiling fans.
- Read manufacturer’s instructions carefully and follow them exactly.
- When purchasing a smoke alarm, make sure that it has been tested to CAN/ULC 5531-M Standard or by an approved testing agency.
“Working smoke alarms and well-planned home fire escape plan can save your life!”
- Install working smoke alarms
- Draw a floor plan of your home
- Choose a family meeting place
- Plan and practice your home escape plan
- Teach all family members to follow the home escape plan
- Keep cooking surfaces clean and clutter free
- Operate microwave ovens safely
- Take care of electrical cords
- Install working smoke alarms
- Stay in kitchen when cooking
- Avoid loose sleeves that may dangle into flames or onto hot elements
- Turn pot handles in
- Slide a lid over the flames
Some of the common chemicals found in your home shouldn't be mixed together. It's one thing to say "don't mix bleach with ammonia", but it's not always easy to know what products contain these two chemicals. Here are some products you may have around the home that should not be combined.
- Don't mix chlorine bleach with any acid.
- Bleach with Acid Toilet Bowl Cleaners. This mixture can result in toxic, potentially deadly fumes.
- Bleach with Vinegar. Vinegar is a type of acid. Toxic chlorine vapor is produced.
- Bleach with Ammonia. Toxic, potentially lethal vapors are produced.
- Different Brands of One Type of Product. Don't mix different cleaners together. They may react violently, produce toxins, or become ineffective.
- Highly Alkaline Products with Highly Acidic Products. Acids and bases (alkalis) can react violently, presenting a splash hazard. Acids and bases are caustic and may cause chemical burns.
- Certain Disinfectants with Detergents. Don't mix disinfectants with 'quaternary ammonia' listed as an ingredient with a detergent. The effectiveness of the disinfectant may be neutralized.
Chlorine bleach is sometimes called “sodium hypochlorite” or “hypochlorite.” You will encounter it in chlorine bleach, automatic dishwashing detergents, chlorinated disinfectants and cleaners, chlorinated scouring powder, mildew removers, and toilet bowl cleaners. Do not mix products together. Do not mix them with ammonia or vinegar.
Read the labels of products in your home and follow instructions for proper use. Many containers will state the most common dangers from interaction with other products.
Household Chemical Disposal
Throwing your Household chemicals in the garbage or putting them down the drain can be dangerous to your family and the environment.
- Consider using battery-operated flameless candles which can look, smell, and feel like real candles.
- Use sturdy, safe candle holders.
- Protect candle flames with glass chimneys or containers.
- Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
- Avoid using candles in bedrooms and sleeping areas.
- Keep children and pets away from burning candles.
- Be careful not to splatter wax when putting out a candle.
- Never use a candle when oxygen is present.
- Always use a flashlight, not a candle, for emergency lighting.
- Keep matches and lighters up high, out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet.
When you purchase items such as small appliances, electronics, lamps, car seats or baby products, always send in the manufacturer's registration card. The manufacturer will then be able to contact you if there is a recall for that product. For a complete history of the most recent recalled Underwriters Laboratories of Canada items visit Consumer Product Safety Commission.
High Rise Action Plan
- Cooking/kitchen fires.
- Heating equipment such as stoves or space heaters.
- Smoking materials are a major cause of fatal apartment fires.
- Arson, including child fire play.
- Fire safety is everyone's responsibility. Every resident should plan to be fire safe.
- Since most high-rise buildings are constructed of fire resistant materials and contain enclosed stairwells, fires are generally confined to individual rooms or apartments, furnishings or possibly one floor.
- Wood frame buildings up to four (4) stories in height have enclosed stairwells, used to escape the building in case of a fire.
- Stairwell doors are fire doors that must be closed at all times to prevent the spread of fire, smoke and poisonous gases.
- An apartment or high-rise fire is no cause for panic. If you plan ahead and practice fire drills, your chances of survival are greatly increased.
- Ensure your building has fire safety plans, including floor plans and evacuation procedures. Fire safety plans should be posted and visible. If they are not, contact the landlord or building manager. Take the time to review and learn your building's fire safety plan.
- The topic of fires and evacuation is a serious concern to seniors who live in apartment buildings. We would like to take this opportunity to guide you through the entire sequence of a fire alarm or fire emergency and the expected response of you the building occupants.
- Your building should be equipped with smoke detectors and other fire alarm components.
- Learn to recognize the sound of the fire alarm, and leave the building immediately when you hear it. Never ignore the alarm, as fire may be present in any part of the building.
- It is recommended that every dwelling have a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For maximum protection install a smoke alarm in every bedroom.
- Test smoke alarms monthly and for battery operated smoke alarms change the batteries at least once a year. Clean smoke alarms at least once every six months by gently vacuuming the exterior. Smoke alarms should be replaced at least every ten years.
- Floor plans and evacuation procedures must be posted on every floor. Take time to learn them.
- Develop and practice your fire safety plan. Know the two quickest and safest ways out of your building.
- Designating and training a fire warden on each floor of the building is recommended to ensure safe evacuation and ongoing safety programs.
- Have a fire drill at least once a year, but practice your escape plans regularly. Coordinate practice drills with neighbours, the floor warden, and the building manager.
- Someone should be assigned to help people with disabilities who may need assistance to evacuate safely.
- Get out quickly and safely.
- If an announcement can be heard over your building's public address system, listen carefully and follow directions.
- Check doors before opening them. Stay low behind the door, reach up and feel the door and the door handle for heat. If the door feels cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly. If safe, leave the building and go directly to your meeting place. If you encounter smoke, crawl low under the smoke. Cleaner air is down low near the floor.
- If the door feels warm, or if you see smoke or flames on the other side of the door, shut the door and stay in your apartment. Protect yourself by sealing the openings around the door and vents with bedding or towels. Call the fire department or 911 to notify them of your location.
- If there is no smoke outside a window, open it and signal for help. Never go to the roof as you may become trapped with no means of escape or protection.
- Never use elevators in a fire! Use the stairways and close all doors behind you to slow the spread of fire and smoke.
- Once you are out of the building go directly to your planned meeting place. Do not re-enter the building. Ensure 9-1-1 has been called.
- In a hotel fire, be sure to take your room key with you. You may encounter smoke and need to re-enter your room for safety.
- Be careful with smoking materials. Large, deep, sturdy ashtrays are best. Soak smoking materials with water before discarding. Check furniture and cushions for dropped matches and cigarettes. Never smoke in bed. Smokers must remember that alcohol and medications can make you less alert.
- Keep matches and lighters high on a shelf or in a cupboard where children can't get them.
- Never leave cooking food unattended. If a pan catches on fire, use a pot holder or oven mitt and slide a lid or cookie sheet over the flames and turn off the burner.
- Keep space heaters at least 1 meter (3 feet) from combustibles.
- Replace worn or damaged electrical cords. Do not overload electrical outlets. Use an approved power bar/electrical receptacle for additional electrical cords.
- Do not store flammable liquids (gasoline) or compressed gases (propane) in your building, car or storage locker.
- Do not use balconies for storage. This can block a means of escape, as well as become a target for arsonists.
- Do not use underground parkade stall for storage of anything other then a vehicle.
Juvenile Fire Setter Program
This is a voluntary program that addresses a child's or teen's fire setting, fire play, fire experimentation or interest in fire. Most children express a natural and normal curiosity about fire in their early life, but how much is too much? The truth is that for children there is no safe or OK amount of involvement with fire. If you know your child is doing something with fire, it's important to deal with it right away. Curiosity about fire can result in devastating injuries and loss of property if the behaviour is ignored. The Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service can help.
The purpose of this intervention program is to help children/teens and families address fire safety and the appropriate use of fire through education and awareness. This is accomplished through an interview and evaluation process to determine the nature of the fire play or fire setting concern and to address ways in which that behaviour can be positively, effectively and safely handled.
The education intervention is a structured series of activities designed to meet seven objectives:
- Increase the youth’s understanding in fire-related topics
- Generate awareness about the seriousness of fire play and fire setting
- Replace misconceptions about fire with practical facts
- Underscore the need to be responsible for your actions
- Explore areas of concern such as peer pressure, risk-taking and communication skills
- Learn to develop viable plans and realistic goals relating to peer pressure and risk taking.
- Provide referral to other agencies. (Parent/Legal Guardian permission is required)
All Fire Safety Specialists with the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service have the training and the experience in dealing with youth fire play occurrences. The steps are listed below.
Step 1: (15 minutes)
Initial information about your concerns will be taken over the phone and an appointment is scheduled as soon after the event as possible.
Step 2: (1 hour)
During the first appointment the Fire Safety Specialist will:
- gather information about the fire play/setting incident
- help complete a parent and child questionnaire
- provide family and child fire safety homework assignments
Step 3: (1 – 1.5 hours)
During the second appointment the fire safety specialist will:
- explore the details of the fire incident in greater detail
- explain components of fire behaviour
- discuss fire play consequences
- present facts relating to burns and burn prevention
- work towards a greater understanding about the dangers of fire
- present acceptable uses of fire and set age appropriate boundaries
This is accomplished through discussion, posters, videos, activities and props in order to keep participants actively involved. All methods are age appropriate and a firm but caring manner is used.
A 3 month and 1 year follow-up will be completed. This is done in order to determine if the youth has or has not engaged in other unsafe fire play/setting behaviour and to address any other fire related concerns the parent or youth may have. Follow-ups are done via phone or letter.
All information is treated as strictly confidential. However, in situations where referral to another agency is desired, the parents/legal guardians’ written consent will be obtained before any information is shared.
The two most important things a parent can do is to eliminate their child's access to fire materials and their child's opportunity to use them:
- Keep track of ignition sources, such as matches and lighters
- Smokers should stick to only carrying one lighter and keep it on their person or lock it away at all times.
- Ignition sources for candles incense and the barbecue should be locked away.
- Children should be instructed not to touch matches or lighters they find outside and to tell a responsible adult where they saw it. The adult should dispose of or destroy it right away.
- Demonstrate fire-safe behaviours and a respect for the destructive power of fire. Your kids will do what you do so make sure you model the safe and appropriate use of matches and lighters.
In order to access this potentially life-saving service, contact the Fire Prevention Division.
The City of Abbotsford’s Secondary Fire Academy (SFA) is a program developed for Abbotsford high school students (ages 16-18) who have expressed an interest in firefighting as a career. It will help students meet the requirements of the Secondary School Graduation Program, in which students must complete 100 hours of career related work experience. The SFA program also introduces opportunities for community service through the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS).
AFRS has partnered with School District #34 to design a program that gives students an up close look into the daily work life of a career or paid on-call firefighter. Students will learn about and practice the duties of a firefighter through physical training, teamwork and mechanical aptitude.
A total of 14 Abbotsford students will be accepted into the SFA program, which will run throughout the school year (October to June) on Wednesdays evenings. Students will be assigned to one of the five paid on-call fire halls and will be expected to attend the mandatory fire practice sessions every Wednesday evenings from 6:00-9:00 pm.
What qualifications do I need to apply?
- Must be a grade 11 or 12 student in Abbotsford.
- Able to pass the physical testing.
- Must have medical clearance from your doctor.
- Must provide a criminal record check.
- Good academic standings.
How Do I Apply?
- See your school career counsellor.
For more information on this exciting program, please contact your school career coordinator.
College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked. For more information review the following:
This program focuses on fire safety for older adults, especially those with disabilities. The focus of the program is to educate older adults about the common causes of fires in Abbotsford, and how to prevent them. It also focuses on how to escape from a fire and what to do if you are unable to get out. This program is ideal for residential living facilities.
Knowing what to do in the event of a fire is very important. This program will educate seniors about fire safety and prepare them in what to do in case of the fire and when fire alarm sounds.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms - Install smoke alarms, on every floor of your home and outside each sleeping area. For maximum protection, install smoke alarms in every bedroom.
- Test the alarm monthly. Some smoke alarms are equipped with large, easy to push test buttons. For battery operated smoke alarms change the batteries at least once a year, or immediately if the smoke alarm makes a chirping sound indicating that the batteries need replacing.
- Testing smoke alarms may be difficult for some seniors. Rather than standing on a chair to push the test button, remain on the floor and use a broom handle to push the test button. Smoke alarms with a flashlight test or television remote are available.
- Notice the alarm - The majority of fatal fires occur when people are sleeping. Because smoke can put you into a deeper sleep, it is important to have an early warning signal of a fire to wake you up.
- If anyone in your household is deaf or if your own hearing is diminished, consider installing a smoke alarm that uses a flashing light, vibration and/or higher decibel sound to alert you to a fire emergency.
- Prepare and Practice a Home Fire Escape Plan - Draw a simple plan of your home and identify two ways out of every room. Determine a meeting place outside your home. Practice your escape plan at least twice a year.
- NEVER use the elevator. Use the exit stairways and close all doors behind you.
- Keep it low - If you don't live in an apartment building, consider sleeping in a room on the ground floor to make emergency escape easier. Make sure that smoke alarms are installed near any sleeping area and have a telephone installed where you sleep in case of emergency.
- Be Prepared - If you are dependent on eyeglasses or essential medication, keep these items by your bedside for easy access in the event of an emergency. Be sure to take them with you.
- Never smoke in bed. Discard smoking material with care.
- Keep heaters properly maintained. Always turn off or unplug space heaters before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Think Safety in the Kitchen - Never leave cooking unattended. Turn off appliances as soon as you are through using them.
- When the smoke alarm sounds - check the door. Stay low behind the door, reach up and feel the door and the door handle for heat.
- If the door feels cool - brace yourself against it and open it slowly. If safe, leave the building and go directly to your meeting place.
- If you encounter smoke, crawl low under the smoke. Cleaner air is down low near the floor. Once you are out of the building go directly to your planned meeting place or go to a neighbour's house and call the fire department. Do not re-enter the building.
- If the door feels warm - or if you see smoke or flames on the other side of the door, shut the door and use your second exit. If you are trapped, seal the openings around the door and vents with wet bedding or towels. Call the fire department using 9-1-1 number to notify them of your location. Open a window and signal for help.
- Open up - Make sure that you are able to open all doors and windows in your home. Locks and pins should open easily from inside. If you have security bars on doors or windows, they should have quick-release mechanisms inside so that they can be opened easily. These mechanisms won't compromise your security, but they will enable you to open the window from inside in the event of a fire. Check to be sure that windows haven't been sealed shut with paint or nails.
- Stop Drop and Roll - If your clothes catch on fire, STOP where you are, DROP to the floor, cover your face with your hands, and ROLL over and over until the flames go out. Avoid wearing loose fitted clothing while cooking.
- Do the drills - Conduct your own fire drill or participate in regular fire drills to make sure you know what to do in the event of a home fire. If you or someone you live with cannot escape alone, designate a member of the household to assist and decide on back ups in case the designated helper isn't home.
- Fire drills are also a good opportunity to make sure that everyone is able to hear and respond to smoke alarms.
- Stay connected - Keep a telephone nearby, along with emergency phone numbers so that you can communicate with emergency personnel if you're trapped in your room by fire or smoke.