Nelson fire chief Simon Grypma speaks to students at Hume Elementary last week about the importance of smoke alarms.

Nelson fire department goes on smoke alarm blitz

Nelson firefighters are busy bringing a message of smoke alarm awareness to our community.

“Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep….” It is a sound we are all familiar with, and a sound that can save a life.

In the case of one Abottsford family earlier this month, it saved ten. Shortly after midnight, a grandmother was woken by the sound of an activated smoke alarm. After alerting the remaining residents, all ten members of the family safely exited the home. By the time the fire department arrived, just minutes later, the front of the home was entirely engulfed in flames.

Despite the tragedy of losing a house, the timely escape of ten residents highlights the importance of a working smoke alarm.

In coordination with a broader provincial campaign, Nelson firefighters are busy bringing a message of smoke alarm awareness to our community.

Recent studies of 11,000 fires in the lower mainland show that almost 70 per cent of homes that catch fire do not have working smoke alarms.

Fire Chief Simon Grypma suggests that Nelson’s statistics mirror this study.

“What the studies also show is that when it comes to fire fatalities and the absence of working smoke alarms, it is most often children, the elderly and low income residents who are the victims,” he said.

In response to these shocking statistics, Grypma has launched a multi-tiered campaign with the goal of ensuring that every home has a functioning smoke alarm. To accomplish this, the fire department is conducting neighborhood visits, telephone surveys, and running contests with community business partners, including 103.5 The Bridge.

When it comes to residential house fires, children and the elderly are the most at risk. Aimed at young children, the first of several contests has now been running for four weeks. While on the radio with 103.5 The Bridge host, Robyn Nicholson on Monday mornings, firefighters talk fire safety and accept a call from an elementary school age child willing to test their smoke alarm live on the radio.

Winning callers who successfully test their alarm receive a unique prize.

“We have had great responses to the rides in the fire truck,” said firefighter Scott Jeffery, who has driven groups to Hume, Waldorf, and NDCC schools. “The kids are very excited to ride in the engine, but the best part is when they arrive at school and surprise their friends. Last week at Hume School we had about 100 students gathered around the engine as winner Cole Woodward helped Chief Grypma show kids how to test their smoke alarm.”

Research has predicted that if we can ensure that every home has a working smoke alarm, up to 70 unnecessary deaths per year in Canada could be prevented. Grypma is ardent in his goal to reach every home owner and resident in Nelson.

“Having a working smoke alarm is the single most important thing to ensure the safety of you and your family,” he said. “In a community our size, I see no reason why we cannot reach out to every resident and achieve our goal of becoming a safer community.”


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