Smoke alarms need frequent testing

70 percent of fire-related fatalities between 2003 and 2007 occurred in houses that either had a non-functioning alarm, or none at all.

Smoke alarms not only save lives, they reduce structural damage. But an alarming number of Canadian homes do not have a working smoke alarm, Township fire chief Steve Gamble said in a presentation to the Community Safety Advisory Committee.

Citing U.S. figures, Gamble said that 70 percent of fire-related fatalities between 2003 and 2007 occurred in houses that either had a non-functioning alarm, or none at all.

The 11,096 residential fires that occurred in B.C. between 2006 and 2011 killed 170 people, he said.

Gamble said that smoke alarms should be tested every two to three months, adding that their functionality actually diminishes over time.

After the meeting, Gamble said the U.S. figures are mirrored in Langley.

“I could almost guarantee that if we went into 100 homes, a significant number would not have a working smoke alarm,” he said.