VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There are some stark numbers about Indigenous peoples and fire safety from Statistics Canada.
According to the agency, Indigenous peoples are five to 17 times more likely to die in a fire compared to the rest of the population.
Former Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis speaks for the National Indigenous Fire Safety Council Project, which commissioned the research. He says there was no “baseline data” associated to fire experience for First Nations communities in Canada.
“The best way to get at that was to look at mortality and morbidity to establish what that baseline was,” he said.
“The hospitalization rates — acute hospitalization rates due to fires and burns in B.C. — is leading the country at 4.65 times higher that the non-Indigenous population of British Columbia,” he added.
The next step is find more detailed data.
“We’ve asked Statistics Canada to help us with national coroners and medical examiners’ databases and determine the circumstances. Was there a smoke alarm working at the time of the fire? Were they asleep? What are the age groups? Was it a space heater? Those types of things,” Garis said.
Part of the problem is the fact there is no national fire protection code that mandates fire safety standards or enforcement on reserves.