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Clearer communication needed: one of the lessons learned after Port Metro's fire

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Simpler messaging should have been used to tell the public to stay indoors, admits the City of Vancouver in a new report examining the response to the Port Metro fire.

On the day of the fire, the message the city gave was “Shelter in Place” to tell people within a certain area near the Port to stay inside.

“We’re revisiting that language and trying to get it plain language,” says Vancouver Fire Chief John McKearney. “So, stay inside, turn off your air conditioners, close your windows — that sort of messaging.”

Most people had no idea what that meant, and McKearney admits in future the communications will aim to use common language rather than technical jargon.

“The language we will use when we broadcast either through our media partners, social media or on the street to our citizens, will be ‘stay inside, shut your doors, shut your windows, shut down your HVAC systems,” says McKearney.

Beyond the issue of communication, the report provided glowing reviews of the response, noting firefighters arrived within 10 minutes of the initial 9-1-1 call.

A survey following the fire indicated 66 percent of those polled said they rated the city’s action that day as “excellent” or “good.”